Domestic Policy Discussion Group
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Rowayton Library

The Rowayton Library hosts a discussion series in the winter/spring about various foreign policy issues. Now in the fall, the attention will turn to domestic policy issues. Please join us for lively discussion and a safe place to share your opinions. The group will be facilitated by Erik Rambush, and resource materials will be researched by Loretta Goeller. Space is limited so please register here.

  • October 4 - Economics and the Politics of Insurance
  • October 11 - DACA and Immigration Policy
  • October 18 - Environmental Policy and Climate Change
  • October 25 - Education Policy
  • November 1 - The Opioid Epidemic: Presentation by Dr. Michael Saxe
  • November 8 - Criminal Justice
  • November 15 - Labor Policy

Week 1 (October 4): Insurance and Individual/Social Responsibility

Auto Insurance is mandatory in CT, yet it also is mandatory to have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. In 2012, 12.6% of vehicles nationwide and 8.0% in CT are estimated to be uninsured.

Why is this?

Health Insurance has been recently mandated under ACA (known as Obamacare) with a penalty for non-compliance yet 11.3% of Americans were not insured for first quarter of 2017.  The percentage of Americans under 65 without health insurance is even higher since almost all seniors are covered by Medicare.  In 2016, 6.5 million taxpayers payed the penalty instead of getting medical insurance.  (It appears that a married couple is one taxpayer). ACA is said to be"failing" because healthy people are paying the penalty instead of being in the insurance pool.

Why is this?

Flood insurance is required on all mortgage properties in high risk areas.  Only 20% of Hurricane Harvey flooded homes have flood insurance despite the premiums being heavily subsidized, though many of these homes were in not high risked areas.  Throughout the nation, up to 1/3 of homes required to have flood insurance do not have it.  FEMA will pay out billions to help those who are uninsured (and insured). The flood insurance program is on shaky financial footing before Hurricane Harvey - again partially attributed to not enough homes in the pool.

Why is this?

Is there a common reason(s) for non-compliance?

Do people not understand the potential consequences of non-compliance?

Are the consequences insufficient?

Is there a unrealistic expectation that nothing will happen to the non-compiler?

Are people so financially strapped that they need to take every financial shortcut? (44% of Americans have less than $400 in emergency savings)

Do people understand the concept of insurance?

Currently we have set of laws and regulations which are moderately paternalistic -with considerable non-compliance. In addition, we have a social safety net which is meant for the poorest but may be abused by those who have limited or no assets.  An example is a well paid nurse who has no assets and no dependents and has chosen not to have medical insurance.  Her announced strategy is if a serious medical condition befell her, she could quit her job and get Medicaid. If she racked up bills, before going on Medicaid, she could declare bankruptcy.

There are those in society who believe in individual responsibility but are individuals required to actually practice it?  And Congressional Representatives and Senators who tout individual responsibility and smaller government until disaster hits their state. Others who think that society should become more socialistic - similar to Canada in medical insurance. Is it fair to those individuals who are responsible that they support those who are not through taxes, higher medical bills and mandated uninsured auto insurance?

What should be done?

  • Close the flood insurance program and ACA because they are not financially viable since the pools do not include all?
  • Make the consequences more drastic- do not allow people who failed to have flood insurance when required get any help from FEMA.  Don't allow people without medical insurance get help in the emergency room?
  • Mandate all to have health insurance and be in the flood insurance pool and finance it in a way to force compliance?
  • Find a way to enforce greater compliance for current regulations?

Please come prepared to discuss this topic. The links below will provide additional information.

Uninsured Motorist Numbers - http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/uninsured-motorists

Health insurance -percentage w/o https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/11/the-number-of-americans-without-health-insurance-rose-in-first-quarter-2017.html

Number who paid penalties https://www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/commissionerletteracafilingseason.pdf

Amount w/o flood Insurance-https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/29/where-harvey-is-hitting-hardest-four-out-of-five-homeowners-lack-flood-insurance/?utm_term=.ab2a9b06b207

Flood insurance compliance -https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R44593.pdf  ; P10

ACA and bankruptcies http://amjmed.org/under-aca-medical-bankruptcy-continues/

Emergency savings-http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nearly-half-dont-have-the-cash-to-pay-for-a-400-emergency-fed-survey-finds-2017-05-19