Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Affordable Health Care

Our Declaration of Independence contains the much quoted phrase, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This sentence was originally written by Thomas Jefferson in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” survived the editing process and was ratified by Congress.

Try as I might, I am unable to find a constitutional right to affordable healthcare. Nowhere do I find an explicit right to health care. The Supreme Court has never interpreted the Constitution as guaranteeing a right to health care services from the government. And interestingly enough, the Supreme Court has held that the government has an obligation to provide medical care for prisoners. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.Today’s planning consideration deals with those who are younger, and/or healthy: yes, I say “and/or” because many older Americans are very healthy. Until the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the design and purchase of health insurance was a financial planning consideration: consumers could select the type of coverage they wanted and decide how much risk they wanted to transfer to the insurance company, if any at all.

These choices have been ‘taken’ from each of us. The result, from an integrated financial planning perspective, is an abomination, truly a monster of sorts.  The Act coined a new phrase: Essential Health Benefits (EHB). There are several of the EHB for which I personally have no need: maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; pediatric services, including oral and vision care. As a financial planner I would never recommend the purchase of these services to a client in their fifties who is in good health.

Alas, we are being deprived of another freedom, the freedom to choose what type of insurance we should purchase and whether or not to make the purchase in the first place. This situation is analogous to the “bill of goods” we were sold as regards automobile insurance. The intent of mandating automobile insurance was to protect citizens against uninsured motorists and to reduce costs. The costs have certainly not been reduced, and the uninsured motorists are still driving. I submit for your consideration the premium for an umbrella policy, which covers the uninsured motorists. The premium for this coverage is roughly double the cost of a basic umbrella policy.

This posting has allowed me to illustrate one of the thousands of nuances in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I hope you will join me over the next several weeks as I illustrate several key components of the act. Also, on Friday November 22nd at 1:30 PM EST, I will be hosting a Webcast on the act.  Please join us. The presentation is web based and virtual seating is limited. For more information or to register, please send an email to hello@ttillery.com.

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