One of the slams on the Affordable Care Act by the GOP are the mandates requiring Americans to buy health insurance. Anyone who’s followed the conversation knows that the mandate is in the law so that young healthier Americans are forced to participate to help offset the cost for older or less healthy participants. But it just flat out isn’t fair for the federal government to force people to buy insurance. And they just don’t do it…right?
Except there is the National Flood Insurance Program. Here the key is National and it is administered by FEMA. And if you live in a flood plain and get a mortgage that is federally guaranteed…you are REQUIRED by the federal government to BUY flood insurance from the federal government. And there is a reason why you have to buy it from the federal government…it’s because no private insurance company will cover these properties unless the premiums were so expensive that no one could afford it. So the government charges rates that are ‘affordable’…essentially subsidizing insurance and private citizens. But the rates are controlled by Congress and not by insurance experts. And no matter how risky your exposure is…NFIP can’t turn you down. Never, never, never…even if your house has been flooded and repaired 5 times in the past 20 years. Want more background: click here. But catch this:
Selling flood insurance is a risky business. So risky that many private companies won’t even touch it. And so the federal government has stepped in. Now, the government has to insure homes that are at a high risk for floods. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma showed us the flaws in this program. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is $30 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury. If it were a private company, it would be bankrupt.
So some of this sounds a little familiar. The Affordable Care Act includes the a mandate…everyone must buy insurance (but you can get it anywhere you want). And ACA has included subsidies to the insurance companies to cover those who can’t afford insurance and to offset potential losses for holding down deductibles. And again, this is all through commercial insurance companies…ain’t no public option…the Obama administration knew that was a no go…although in retrospect they probably should have pushed that through too.
So America! The federal government at the direct control of Congress will happily insure and rebuild and rebuild and rebuild your personal property at subsidized rates…but damned if we’ll cover your health!
NPR Podcast here: