A Trial Lawyer's View of Obamacare

Robert Edwards Nov. 20, 2014

A lot of folks are opposed to Obamacare for a variety of reasons. As a trial lawyer, however, I had a recent case come across my desk which shows why this law is necessary and good for the country.

Because my wife is a registered nurse, I may have a little more insight into this issue than most people.

One of the big problems with the American healthcare system is that it is open to everyone, whether they are insured or not, or whether they can pay for their health care or not. An example would be a recent case of mine. My client, a young man in his early 20s, has a job working as a motorcycle technician. He was riding his motorcycle to work one morning when he was involved in a crash. He was injured and taken to North Memorial where he quickly ran up a bill between $20,000 and $25,000. The crash was his fault. He had no medical payments coverage on his motorcycle, and did not have private health insurance of any sort. So what happens to that $20,000-$25,000 in expenses? Does it just go away? No. It gets passed on to everyone else who does have insurance. That's one reason why hospital stays cost so much money and why health insurance premiums have continued to skyrocket over the past 15 years.

One of the main purposes of the Affordable Care Act is to get people like that client into the insurance pool. Insurance is all about spreading risk. The more people in the risk pool, the more the cost of care can be spread out. If young, healthy people consistently stay out of the insurance pool by not buying health insurance, the only people left in the pool will be the elderly, the sick, the disabled, etc. If young, healthy people like my client can be forced to be in the pool, their premiums will help cover the care for others and, contribute towards his own care which it turned out he needed.

My wife sees this sort of thing all the time.

Commencing in 2014, I think, people like my client will pay a tax on their earnings if they can't prove that they have insurance. This will be a financial incentive to my client to buy insurance. After all, if you're paying for it anyways you might as well have the coverage. This financial incentive will push more young, healthy people into the risk pool, get them to start paying for that insurance coverage, and thereby spread the risk out further and keep premiums lower than they otherwise would be.