Open Letter to the President on Health Care

By | November 22, 2009

White House

Dear Mr. President:

I am extremely concerned about the upcoming health care bill in Congress, especially the Pelosi Amendment requiring heavy fines or jail time for no health insurance.

The idea of fining people and jailing people for not having health insurance is flawed, because the reason why most people do not have health insurance in the first place is because they cannot afford it.  So basically, you are saying, if you cannot afford health insurance, we will fine you, and since you can’t afford the fine because you couldn’t afford the health insurance, we will throw you in jail.

This is a perfect example of laws being made up by the top 20% of society that is not struggling to pay its bills every month. 

“Sorry kids, no food tonight, I have to pay for health insurance or else I get thrown in jail and you go to foster care.”

This is just like the Safe Clear Program, as originally written in Houston, Texas where if you broke down on a freeway, you were towed without your consent (i.e. police ordered tow) and forced to pay $75 cash on the spot.  If you did not pay $75 cash on the spot to the tow truck driver, they would impound your vehicle and charge you hundreds of dollars to get it back.  Maybe the rich politicians who thought this up never imagined that the other 80% of the population does not always have $75 cash in their pockets, because it never dawned on them that some people actually live paycheck to paycheck and may not have any cash on them.  In fact, a couple weeks after the program started, a disabled lady on Medicare disability checks had a flat tire, got her car impounded, and the impound fees where more than she made in a month on disability.  So basically, when the law was first enacted, a flat tired in Houston meant your car was impounded and sold if you did not have $75 cash on the spot and could not afford the impound fees.  After much public outcry, they changed the law to be more practical, giving a free tow off the freeway right of way, and charging $75 if going anywhere else.  After all, supposedly the Safe Clear Program was about safety and clearing disabled vehicles from the freeway and not about making money.

I respectfully submit that the idea of forcing people who cannot afford insurance to pay for insurance they cannot afford or threaten to jail them is not well thought out, and is, well, a bit arrogant in the sense that it obviously was thought out by rich people or well off people who can afford insurance in the first place.

You compare it to auto insurance, but there really is no comparison, because that is to cover the liability you take on in driving a car; your liability of hurting others or damaging others property.  There actually is no requirement that you have auto insurance on yourself.  And you are not required to own a car or have auto insurance if you don’t have a car.  In fact, many people don’t have auto insurance because they use mass transit and don’t need a car (i.e. New York City).

Also, where does the Federal Government actually get the authority do such a thing?  Last time I checked, the United States was still a union of sovereign states where the U.S. Constitution wisely delegates most domestic issues to the states so that laws effecting the people are more attuned to local conditions, and not made by a government thousands of miles away that does not understand how different New York is to Texas or California or Alaska or Hawaii.

This is something that would be better handled by the states, because they run the health care system anyway (license hospitals, run public hospitals & clinics, provide indigent care, etc.).  Let one of the states try this on it’s local population, and see what effect it has.  But let the locals vote on it.  If its a good program, other states will copy it.  If not, the states will find a better way.  You should be enabling the states to experiment with this, since they have the authority to do so already.  This will also allow us to have a better solution in the end, since the different states can and will try different ideas, and copy the best ones from each other.

This idea of fining people up to $250,000 (which is 5 to 10 years of salary for most people) and jailing them for 5 years for not having health insurance is, well, I will respectfully say, not well thought out.

I understand the need to have health insurance for the population, and I also understand your desire to keep it a private system.  But what are you going to do when 70% of the population who could not afford health insurance before not surprisingly cannot afford it after it is mandatory?  That is what I want to know.

Please, put yourself in the average person’s shoes here who has a fixed income and live month to month.  Then after you do that, put yourself in the shoes of a single mom with three kids who lives in a bad neighborhood because that is all she can afford, who is working he rear off and can barely put food on the table.  She’s not on welfare, she’s making minimum wage or a bit above, but at the end of the month, there is no money left.  Wear her shoes for a bit, and see if you think about mandatory health insurance the same way.

Thank you for your time.  I am honored that you are our President.


Scott M. Stolz

Image “White House” Courtesy of Damian Brandon /


Scott M. Stolz

Entrepreneur, Educator, Author.
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