How much federal involvement should we permit and how much involvement should we require in the lives of American children? The quick answer is “as little as possible” but I think there should be an exception for healthcare.
The government already compels K-12 education. The federal government also sets the retirement age for rank-and-file workers. Once retired, the federal government pays stipends and subsidizes the healthcare of those retirees. So if the federal government is so involved at the ends of our lives, why not be equally involved in the start of our lives?
Some decades ago, Congress enacted S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) which I regard as medicaid for minors. But it is unequally utilized and costs are not well controlled. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act imposed a slough of mandatory covered services which increased costs for insurers who passed along those costs to the premium-paying policyholders.
As much as I dislike federal overreach, there has always been an exception where children are concerned. Children are tomorrow’s taxpayers and cogs of the American economic machine. A baseline education keeps our economy productive and baseline healthcare ensures the vitality of the budding workforce. Government-run, single-payer healthcare for minors makes sense given that upon graduating high school, students can join the military, join the workforce, or enroll in higher education. Accordingly, the first two options would provide health insurance and rather than foisting adult students onto their parents’ health insurance until age twenty-five, universities would have to take the initiative to provide for the healthcare of their students (which would be minimal given that this demographic is the healthiest in the nation). What’s more, this system would further serve to incentivize universities to tie academic performance to continued enrollment and good standing which further educates young adults on the importance of work ethic and which further prepares them for career life in the real-world. More than any entitlement mentality, these lessons would make America all the more prosperous. With increased prosperity comes increased taxation revenue which means that taxes can be lowered for all.
In a society that believes that every person has equal opportunity for success, it would have made sense that all children be equipped for success through equivalent childhood healthcare. In this, Obamacare missed the mark: It should have created a single-payer system for all children instead of foisting it upon private insurers and requiring uniform coverage. And who knows, if single-payer healthcare proved successful and palatable in that arena, perhaps Americans would have come to consider it as an expandable model for universal coverage!