A few months ago, I happily joined the ranks of the self-employed. I lost my employer-sponsored health insurance, but I hoped to save money by purchasing catastrophic plan coverage – very low premium, very high deductible insurance that would cover very expensive, unexpected medical care if something terrible were to happen to me.
No dice. The (supposedly) Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for me to purchase catastrophic coverage because I'm not under 30 and do not qualify under any of the 14 "hardship exemptions" listed on Healthcare.gov.
Like it or not, the ACA forces me to pay much higher premiums for a traditional, comprehensive health insurance I don't want — a plan that provides many benefits that I don't believe I need and am willing to take the risk of not having.
This isn't just bad for me. This is bad for the nation. Millions of Americans like me want to buy catastrophic coverage but do not qualify under the ACA.
If the ACA did not forbid it, we would buy catastrophic plan coverage and each save thousands of dollars annually through lower premiums. We would invest this money or spend it on more goods and services. This investment and spending would be better for each of us and for the nation's economy than wastefully spending more money on health insurance coverage that we don't actually want.
Those of us with catastrophic plan coverage also would directly pay out of our own pockets many more of our medical expenses that would be subject to high deductibles. When consumers directly pay their medical expenses, they often negotiate and receive lower prices. Allowing us to buy catastrophic plan coverage thus would lower medical care costs.
So why does the ACA prohibit us from buying catastrophic plan coverage that better meets our needs and budgets? Because the guiding principle of the ACA is that the government has decided that it knows better the kind of health insurance that each and every American needs and should have.
Without reviewing my health history, income, lifestyle, expenses, or savings, the government has decided that I need and should have coverage under a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum health insurance plan. Simply because I'm not under 30 and do not qualify under a hardship exemption, the government has concluded that catastrophic plan coverage is not right for me.
And, of course, without reviewing their health histories, incomes, lifestyles, expenses, or savings, the government has reached the same conclusion as to each and every American not under 30 and who does not qualify under a hardship exemption.
A more dramatic example of unfounded government arrogance is hard to imagine.
The Congressional debate about how to fix the ACA involves a myriad of detailed provisions and considerations. Many are very complex. But one of the simplest improvements would be to abolish the limitations on catastrophic coverage.
Senators and representatives who claim to want a smaller, less intrusive government that lets people make their own economic choices should support this. (Republicans, this means you.)
The results would be more individual freedom for each of us to choose the kind of health insurance coverage we want, a more prosperous economy, and lower medical costs.
I've made responsible decisions about life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, and auto insurance. I'm confident that I similarly can make a responsible decision about catastrophic health insurance.
Congress: Please let me buy catastrophic plan coverage.
David M. Simon is an attorney in Chicago.
Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.