The Missouri Chamber of Commerce conducted an interesting survey of business owners back in December about their thoughts on the proposals for health care reform. This article in the Springfield Business Journal details some of the responses to the survey questions, as well as some of the concerns shared by restaurant and hotel owners in particular. These industries typically have a lot of part-time workers, many of whom one hotel owner said would have to be laid off in the event of a mandate requiring that employers provide health care for their employees. If an 8-percent payroll tax were charged as a penalty to employers who did not provide insurance, 47 percent of the businesses surveyed would pay the fine and 51 percent said they would provide insurance. So barely half of these businesses would provide insurance, while the rest would be unnecessarily crippled with a higher tax burden and leave their employees without health insurance — not to mention the employees who would lose their jobs as a result. All this would follow from a benevolent attempt on the part of the government to help more people obtain health insurance.
An individual mandate would be similarly counterproductive. The Wall Street Journal reports on an analysis by the Heritage Foundation showing that “roughly 93 percent of uninsured households under age 35 who face a penalty for remaining uninsured would rather pay the penalty than buy health insurance.” As the article points out, paying this penalty would require money that would have otherwise been spent or saved, causing an unnecessary drain on both the economy and the individuals who are forced to pay this fine.
This is a perfect example of the unintended consequences that so often occur as a result of well-intentioned legislation. It seems like legislators are usually more focused on how their proposals sound, rather than on the actual results of those policies. Unfortunately, this never ends well; we all know the saying about the road that’s paved with good intentions.