California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is considering some aggressive steps to push all citizens into health insurance plans. Under this proposal--one of several being considered by the administration--the state would track down people who refuse to buy health insurance, force-enrolled in a plan and fined until they pay the premiums. Schwarzenegger has also proposed attaching the wages of people who don't buy into a health plan, or boosting their state income tax debt. To find the uninsured, the administration would use state or private databases to pick out citizens who went without health coverage for 60 days or more. In penalizing the uninsured, California would be following in the footsteps of Massachusetts, but Massachusetts officials are only imposing a small tax penalty on those who don't have coverage.
These ideas have greatly upset some interest groups that Schwarzenegger would like to win over, including the California branch of the Service Employees International Union, which is arguing that the proposal would hit people in transition with penalties they can't afford. Schwarzenegger's plan would offer subsidies to the poor, but most others would be own their own, facing premiums that could hit $1,200 per person each year even for high-deductible plans.
To learn more about California insurance proposals:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece