OPINION: We need the individual healthcare mandate

ABOVE: From GDJ on Pixabay (license)

A letter to the editor by Barbara S. Blonsky or Mount Laurel, NJ

Dear Editor:

Once again there was an amusing juxtaposition of a news story and a letter to the editor in the Burlington County Times on Tuesday, July 31.

A letter titled “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” was written in order to complain that the legislation instituted by New Jersey reinstating the individual mandate was a burden on state residents.  The author, Mr. E.W. Boyle of Cinnaminson, called the mandate “onerous” and a “punitive tax” on those in New Jersey who wished to exercise “free choice.”  These types of comments always make me roll my eyes.  Rarely do people choose the anxiety and uncertainty life presents without health care.  Having worked tirelessly during the last year to insure health care remained available, accessible, and reasonably priced for citizens, I know the fear faced by those who thought they would lose critical coverage.

However, on page one of the BCT that same morning, was an article by David Levinsky about price hikes for the 2019 ACA plans.  It was clearly pointed out that although rates will rise 5.8%, “average increases would have been more than double if the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Governor Murphy did not act to create the state’s own so-called Individual mandate requirement.”

Every study conducted has pointed to the fact Republican policies are responsible for undermining the current ACA.  The dismantling of the tenets of the Act have led to instability in the markets and large rate increases.  Carriers indicated that without the recent enactment of the law to continue the individual mandate in New Jersey, the average rate increase would have been 12.6%.  Under our Democratic leadership, citizens of New Jersey can be assured that they have access to affordable, quality coverage.  The Governor, along with a group of committed legislators, has also worked to create a reinsurance program to help insurers in the state cover high-risk residents.

There are 275,000 residents currently covered under ACA in the state of New Jersey, and my guess would be that the great majority are relieved to know that because of the commitment of their Democratic Governor and legislature, they will face some of the smallest cost increases in the country, and still have access to the benefits that make health care viable.

One can still choose not to purchase healthcare.  However, I rarely find that those that refuse coverage also refuse treatment if they were to become sick or injured.  If you expect to be cared for in any way, you pay a price.  Get health care or pay the penalty required by the individual mandate.  I think that is a choice that benefits the most citizens and assures fairness to all.

Barbara S. Blonsky or Mount Laurel, NJ

(A related opinion from the BCT: Opinion: NJ takes stand on health care coverage)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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