Pay to Ignore?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Whether ObamaCare might eventually make us "customers" of the government or has the government micromanaging the medical professionals we depend on is unimportant. If we don't repeal it, here's a taste of what we can expect in the form of a trial balloon:

Sign up or pay up. The City of Chicago is urging its employees and their eligible spouses to join the city's "innovative wellness program," or else pay an additional $50 a month for their health care plan.

"Our program will change lives, make our workforce healthier, and save taxpayers money," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Thursday. "It will only work if people join, and I'm so pleased to report that we've had well over 22,000 employees or spouses join the program."
I have no problem with a private insurer in an unregulated market offering lower rates to customers who opt to participate in some kind of health regimen. Customers who disagree with the health regimen or simply don't like it can always look elsewhere for insurance. (And if the regimen is mere quackery, that company will eventually stop offering the deal or go out of business.) Likewise, if an employer wants to insist on a fitness standard or program for his employees, that is his right: Nobody is forcing anyone to work for him.

In and of itself, I don't have a problem with the general idea of what Chicago is doing here (even as a government employer) -- ignoring for the sake of argument that most of Chicago's government workers would not be government workers if the Windy City's government were restricted to its proper scope.

That said, what bothers me is the following. There is massive confusion today about the proper role and scope of government, such that this proposal is a shot across the bow, particularly considering who the mayor is. It is only a tiny additional slip down the slope to tyranny for the government to force this kind of "choice" down everyone's throat, thanks to ObamaCare. Never mind that, left to one's own devices, one might conceivably conclude that either spending more on health insurance or following the particular orders the government issues regarding one's health is a poor choice.

ObamaCare is bad not just for the many flaws other commentators have ably pointed out already, but also for opening the door to "choices" such as this, between being continuously pick-pocketed or hectored on the pretext of it being "healthy".

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

And remember that Winston Smith had to exercise in front of his TV every day and be harangued by Big Brother's Fitness Director whose description, contrary to what Orwell wrote, always conjured up images of East German non-male swim teams.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

Made to exercise AND get harangued is the ultimate goal. Getting everyone to accept one or the other with docility will be enough.

Anonymous said...

As a native of the Chicagoland area this is business as usual, just with a different mayor. Considering the city is now so dangerous with murders and rapes occurring everyday. It's nice to see Mayor Napoleon set his priorities straight. Tell people how they should handle their health. But don't bother to make sure the city is safe to walk down a street.

Sigh!! A day in the life of the Windy City.(btw Windy City has nothing to do with the weather. It was a reference to the politicians who were, and still are a bunch of windbags!)

Bookish Babe

Jim May said...

I call this the "helmet laws" or "steabelt laws" precedent: where tax dollars go, inevitably follows "Well, if my tax dollars pay for the consequences of activity X, I'm more favorably disposed to efforts to "discourage" activity X".

I've even heard that line of thinking from *libertarians*.

Gun control isn't about guns, it's about control. Obamacare is the same, in principle and practice. Hell, OBamacare is a very likely vector *for* gun control in the future; it's probably what's behind the current push to turn guns into a "public health" issue.

Gus Van Horn said...


And after collecting fifty bucks a month from anyone who doesn't want to have a monthly "check-in", I'm sure banning salt shakers from restaurants is the next priority, and far ahead of making streets safer.


It's astounding how simply shifting the end goal of cost-benefit analysis (which often is a reasonable decision strategy)from the individual to the collective leads to rampant government intrusion.