Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oklahoma Legislator and Insurance Commissioner Band Together to Advocate "Punishment" for Those Without Health Insurance

Anyone who lives in Oklahoma would be hard-pressed to find a topic of more debate than the one about the potential for punishing Oklahomans who do not have health care coverage. Both Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland and State Representative Kris Steele advocated just such punishments as reported in the November 21, 2008 "The Oklahoman." (Click on blog title to access article.)

While it matters little what punishments are being considered, such "inducements" as Commissioner Holland calls them, are the typical example of putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Rather than first addressing the problem of making health care affordable to the residents of the state, immediately these two people who are in a position to at least begin such dialogue prefer to threaten people with loss of services/funds.

Commissioner Holland stated, "We have developed this culture over the years that some don't feel like they have to pay their medical bills." In truth, what we have are many residents who are unable to pay their medical bills, many of whom go without needed medical care for that very reason. It is a burden for any parent that is unable to provide health care coverage for their children because of an inability to afford such coverage--a burden to the parents' heart because their children don't get all the medical care they may need.

Representative Steele stated, "You need the carrot and the stick," referring to punishing those who don't have insurance and rewarding those who do. Since when do we want the government considering us jackasses, and treating us the same?

To give credit where it is due, Rep. Steele also stated that the place to start is to make health care affordable to state residents, then to look to create incentives.

I disagree that people need any incentive to have health care coverage other than the ability to maintain their health and to be able to obtain medical services when needed.

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