Life without risk

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

The news this week is all about the new Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) with what President Donald Trump assures us will cover every American, will cost less and offer better health coverage than Obamacare.

Many people hate Obamacare for a variety of reasons, but the biggest problem seems to be the mandate that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty. Freedom-loving critics say that Americans shouldn’t be forced to buy insurance that they don’t want.

Since when?

We’re forced to buy a lot of insurance already that we may not want or need. Everyone who drives a car must have auto insurance. That’s a state law — you are required to carry a proof-of-insurance card at all times in your car and show it to a cop if you're stopped. Nobody in Congress or the Legislature thinks this is unreasonable since these laws were passed across America with bipartisan support. Homeowners who have mortgages on their houses must buy insurance, which is required by their banks as well as FHA and Fannie Mae, government agencies which buy the mortgages from the banks. If farmers want to participate in certain government programs, they must have crop insurance.

Businesses are likewise required to buy many types of insurance. We must have workers compensation insurance and unemployment insurance for our employees and also must buy property and liability insurance for our building and vehicles. Banks must have FDIC insurance on their depositors’ funds.

Not only are we required to buy all of this insurance, but businesses must also pay half of the employees’ Social Security and Medicare retirement funds; the employer’s “contribution” amounts to 7.65% of the payroll.

Businesses also must act as collection agents for the state and federal governments by withholding employees’ income taxes and paying them immediately; if there's a mistake, our necks are on the chopping block, not the employees.

Legislators in Washington and in Des Moines have both dumped these requirements on individuals as well as businesses over the years and neither party has made any attempt to roll back any of these rules — and there have been no widespread complaints about forced coverage until the Affordable Care Act showed up.

So as Congress repeals the requirement to have health insurance, I expect them next to repeal requirements to buy auto insurance, homeowners insurance, crop insurance, bank insurance, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, property and liability insurance and Social Security retirement insurance.

This new-found freedom from insurance should make for a very interesting economy, devoid of any risk management.