• Insurance, Health

Should you have to buy health insurance?

A study released last week by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health tracks public opinion on requiring people to get insurance coverage. The report, entitled "The Public on Requiring Individuals to Have Health Insurance," shows an American public that overwhelmingly thinks "the number of uninsured is a serious problem" (74%). But respondents were divided on whether people should be required to get health insurance, as is currently the case in Massachusetts. The survey had some interesting questions about the role of employers in providing health coverage. 61% of the respondents who had health insurance got it through either their own or their spouses' employers. And when asked, 76% of those surveyed looked favorably on "requiring employers to offer health insurance to their workers, or pay money into a government pool that provides coverage for people who are not covered through their jobs," as part of a plan to get health insurance for all Americans. Regardless of where one comes down on whether employers should be required to provide insurance (or even contribute to a pooled fund), the assumption that they'll have an important role is telling. People are reluctant to think outside the employer system--even though it's clear that an increasing number of workers doesn't fit that model.

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