I have been showing how the new federal bill that requires people to buy health insurance resembles the system we have here in Massachusetts, which is wrong and unfair. It forces people to buy coverage without actually getting care. It plays Robin Hood in reverse by sending working- and middle-class people's money to rich insurance companies and hospitals. It stigmatizes women who exercise their right to obtain an abortion. People who don't have health insurance yet think the Massachusetts plan doesn't give them what they need, and they resent having to pay for something that doesn't save them any money.
(It may be true, as my friend Larry Lennhoff says, that people will realize the value of health insurance the moment they have a catastrophic illness. For most of us, fortunately, that means never realizing it. It may also not be true. If the public was going to be on the hook for your care before, and now you are paying for insurance yourself, how does that make you happy?)
What I fear most about the new health insurance bill is that it may make people oppose ALL forms of publicly funded health care. Some people think this has happened already. They read the recent election of State Rep. Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate seat as a referendum on health care. I believe this is a whopping big mistake: the Democratic candidate, State Attorney General Martha Coakley, failed to mount any real campaign after she won the Democratic nomination. In effect, she gave the election away. Furthermore, I believe people took their frustrations with the corrupt Democratic monopoly of the Massachusetts legislature out in the Senate race. It doesn't matter that the two have nothing to do with each other.
Still, I do hear people complaining about the Massachusetts bill in casual conversation--in the public library, for instance, checking out books. People are forming the impression that if the government runs it, it's bound to favor the rich and hurt them. They have a lot of reason to think that, and the mandatory health insurance bill just adds one more. To me, that's the biggest reason to oppose it and want to replace it. When you're alienating voters who should be your strongest supporters, you need to think again--before it blows up in your face.