March 27th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on Readers go back and forth as Supreme Court mulls health care law

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, our readers are making some arguments of their own. Some are even protesting. Comment below and share your thoughts and ideas about health care.

Supreme Court divided over health care mandate

We've been hearing from several readers, including a bunch of iReporters, about this measure.

"We need universal health care," says Matt Sky of New York. He suggests the insurance companies have a conflict of interest when treating people. Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, says she likes the law in theory but is unsure that people will be able to pay for it. Houston, Texas, resident Vera Richardson says we're already required to purchase auto insurance, so why not health insurance?

Some, like Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, suggested leaving health care programs to the states.

k3vsDad: "I say no to this being a federal mandate. To me this is a violation of the 10th Amendment. This is an issue that should remain with the states. The states have a much better handle developing health care programs tailored to their citizens. One size does not fit all. Every time the federal government overreaches, it is never better, but worse. Give health care back to the states."

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, says he believes Obama's plan was a compromise, and he might even like to see it go further.

"I am of two minds. Sometimes I want the mandate struck down in order to speed up how soon we will ultimately get Medicare for all (single-payer health care). But then given the lack of congressional competence, I then revert back to doing this in pieces starting with the current bill."

These two comments represent the debate pretty well.

IndyHoosier9: "This is about health care costs. Right now, if a person goes to the hospital and does not have health insurance, they get treated and the rest of us pay for it (in our health care costs). So it comes down to two options: either require health insurance by everyone, or tell hospitals not to treat anyone without health insurance."

tp16: "This is certainly one of the most crucial decisions the Supreme Court will make in determining the power of the federal government. This administration and its Justice Department have had to resort to every sort of stretch imaginable to try to justify [this]. What the administration wants to do is to impose a tax without the political liability of calling it a tax. This president has taken a swipe at individual rights, under the guise of the collective good, purely to save face."

Another story generated a different sort of conversation about health care. Three-year-old Violet McManus suffers from seizures that threaten her breathing.

The Supreme Court, health care reform and one little girl

Her parents are worried the Supreme Court could restore lifetime limits on Violet's insurance coverage. She was quickly approaching the $5 million lifetime limit on her insurance policy before health care reform. Readers had lots to say about both sides of the issue.

Phange: "I am a medical student with a Master of Health Administration degree. I can say this, without a doubt. Both sides, top to bottom, are dead wrong about health care.

DEMOCRATS – Insurance isn't/has never been the problem. ... (The law is) like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It fixes a problem that doesn't exist, thereby increasing the likelihood that the main problem (a complete oligopoly of price controls within the provider marketplace) will continue.

REPUBLICANS – We currently have the most expensive health care system in the world. ... I would know, I work in it every day. A true fiscal conservative would immediately recognize that we need a radical change in hospital and provider regulations if we are to have any hope of changing course.

The bottom line is that neither of you actually care about health care. You've turned one of the most important humanitarian fields into a political game."

This reader supports the measure.

SoCaliBB: "I was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 9 and underwent two years of chemo. I have since then been diagnosed with two additional health scares in my life and I"m still in my 20s. Thankfully, I was either under my parents or my own health insurance and hardly had to pay the treatments because I had good coverage. I HATE to think what a person or family would go through if they had no insurance. It's very gut-wrenching and devastating if you think about it. I'm willing to pay more in taxes, insurance co-pays, whatever if it means that others get the same type of treatment and health opportunity as I have."

This comment comes from someone who opposes the law

Peshwar: "Let's cut the sob stories over health care. This debate is not about emotional issues. It is about the constitutionality of forcing American citizens to have to purchase health care or face a penalty. It is about nothing else!"

If a child is sick, how do you pay?

Crystal N: "My daughter is profoundly affected by this law. Like Violet, she's 3. However my daughter got an infection that turned septic at a week of age and almost died. Either the sepsis or the antibiotics that saved her life (or both) caused a kidney to fail. At 10 days of age she had a stroke. She could have hit the cap in her lifetime, particularly if she needs a transplant in the future. The pre-existing conditions issue would have determined her career path and major in college because her first priority once we couldn't cover her would have been insurance. The ACA gives her a future."

Randy Darrah: "So us taxpayers should have to pay for your daughter? I hope your daughter recovers and gets the help she needs, but why is it my responsibility to pay for it?"

Some other readers talked about the portions of the law that bothered them.

Opinion0731: "Most people will agree that there are a handful of provisions in Obamacare are good. The problem is that there is a lot more bad in the law then there is good. Putting a sick child on the headline and making it and sound like overturning Obamacare is a personal attack on this little girl. I agree that the problems with health care need to be addressed, but a 2,500-page law that is filled with a lot of costly provisions isn't the solution."

sporty53: "Actually, it's the other way around. More good than bad. I have yet to hear more than three things Republicans don't like in this bill."

"1. It pays for abortions
2. It doesn't include tort reform
3. It forces all Americans to purchase insurance sometimes against their will
4. It requires religious institutions to fund procedures or medicines against their religious beliefs
5. It is adding trillions to the national debt; we simply can't afford it
6. It does not allow for the purchase of insurance across state lines which would create greater competition and lower prices."

What do you think? Do you have ideas to fix the health care system? Should health insurance be required by law? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or send us a video comment via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Ann

    The problem with saying it's fine if young, healthy people don't want to spend their money on insurance is that young, healthy people can get hit by cars, break their legs, get sick, etc. Then they'll be screaming for health coverage.

    This is about taking responsibility for yourself. Buy insurance. You hope you'll never need it – just like you hope you'll never have a house fire and need your homeowner's insurance – but it's incredibly irresponsible to not prepare for the unexpected.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe S.

    The question is not that the Government is mandating that all of us buy "broccolli" but rather "pay" for the broccolli that we all think we have the birth right to. The "broccolli" here is the "health care services" that we all expect when or if we go to a hospital. But we don't want to be mandated to pay for it? No wonder our great country is in such a financial disaster. And what is most appalling is that the Conservative Justices in world's greatest power don't understand this? These justices need to resign and take up janitorial jobs.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AmadoC

    Since we live in a capitalist country, public insurances in the "retail" market should be the most ideal for every citizen to have the free-will to choose to sign up whenever they are ready, wherever. The Goverment needs to do their job and make sure increases in premiums are not forced upon not only normal Americans, but especially the youth who made the right decision buying a plan of their own choosing. Increases in premiums within a year after the insurance hasn't even been used at all one single time. This explains how people who might feel after being forced to buy insurance, paying for something that has lost its point because it might have a negative psychological impact upon the receiver as if they were a dog forced on meds. Is there any point at all to live in the United States of American if you will be drugged, seduced, and stripped from your liberty? No thank you! I know what's best for me when I am ready for it and when I need it. Something tells me this "healthcare" is going to be abused instantly by the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and we're all going to have to pay for their evil mistakes.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nopretenders

    NObama and his entire regime are illegitimate

    March 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Yes, yes, your ocpy of the birth certificate is in the mail.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama 2012

      He won THE election that makes him legit. Stop pretending 'nopretenders'

      March 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tired of bums

    I pay my premiums. I am tired of paying for people who refuse to take responsisbility for their own health care costs. The mandate should be upheld, period.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Your still going to pay other peoples healthcare no matter what but, with this mandate it will be mandatory that you pay it and if cost go up like it will you will have to pay for that too. The people who do not have insurance will still not have insurance because they cannot afford it.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DontReallyKnow

    Guys, 2500 pages is a lot of pages, but the summary of it all is this. We all need healthcare at one time or another, we insist that anyone should get treatment should they need it (our country's compassion), healthcare costs money, doctors need to be paid and the manufacturers need to recover their costs. There can never be universal healthcare with an opt out option, on which end are you opting out, the recieving end or the paying end. If we had government provided healthcare with opt out, then we can kiss universal good bye, because we would all opt out of the paying end and into the recieving end, leaking bucket syndrome. Forget politics, healthcare is a human rights issue, we demand it, it becomes a choice because most of use hope never to use it extensively or believe that we will never have to use it. We demand spend on arms and military, because we need to keep away the enemy, in this case the enemy is unknown and unclear and most likely will not attack me, therefore I am unwilling to speand money to defend myself. What is the differnece between conscription (which is legal) and individual mandate. They both are necessary for the well being of the american people.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TJholmes

    Either include everybody in the insurance pool or start charging the people in lowest strata of our society for any medical emergency. Is quality healthcare everybody's fundamental right as a citizen of this great country or not? That to me is the biggest question. If this is not the right way to do it, then let's hear what is? Didn't republicans propose the same mandate in 1990s. What has changed?

    March 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stuck in the Middle

    I spent the first 45 years of my life in the US healthcare system and the last 5 in the Canadian system. I personally much prefer the Canadian system. I've never waited in a long line for care, I make an appointment and that's that. I'v ebeen to the ER once here and was there no longer than the last ER visit I had in the states. All the nasty things you hear about socialized medicine is pure propaganda perpetuated by the US health care industry that wants to continue sucking every cent from you. Wake up America and demand univeral health care for all your citizens.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff

    Keep in mind all of those debating this issue in D.C. get Single Payer Health Care provided for by the Taxpayer! Medicaid/ Medicare is also Single Payer by the Federal Goverment. So is the Military.
    Friggin' Hypocrites....

    March 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kyle

    I live in Massachusetts. Basically the only reason I have health care is because of RomneyCare, on which ObamaCare is based. If you can't require everyone to purchase insurance for something they will use, but then say insurance companies can't discriminate against sick people, the costs of insurance will skyrocket so high that people like myself will not be able to afford it, let alone people with illnesses who need the insurance more than anyone. If this law is struck down, the only way to get everyone healthcare will be single payer.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Reading through some of the transcripts, It appears the purpose of the mandate is to make sure heath care providers receive 100% payment for services provided, so any unpaid services are not past on the insurance company and in effect the end consumer. I don't think the mandate will even accomplish that unless all insurance will now be 100% coverage with no deductible or co-insurance. The example Ginsburg uses of 7% uncompensated cost. I would like to know how much of that was from uncollected deductibles?

    GINSBURG: Mr. Verrilli, I thought that your main point is that, unlike food or any other market, when you made the choice not to buy insurance, even though you have every intent in the world to self-insure, to save for it, when disaster strikes, you may not have the money. And the tangible result of it is - we were told there was one brief that Maryland Hospital Care bills 7 percent more because of these uncompensated costs, that families pay a thousand dollars more than they would if there were no uncompensated costs.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. El

    I think I need some clarification. It is my understanding that if you have health insurance, say under your job, this mandate does not affect you. Though I'm on the fence about the mandate portion only, I wonder how many people this mandate would harm?

    March 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 23 from texas

    We need a simple plan to where people my age can purchase plans that cover medical emergancies, but leaving the little expenses (prescriptions, birth control and checkups) alone. I will take care of everything under $1500 and the rest is major stuff like car accidents and such and will be covered under my cheap plan, that hopefully I won’t need for the next 20-30 years. I do not need to be subsidizing anyone. I am me; I will take care of me. Everyone else should be on their own, and should stop asking for free handouts! Strike this whole provision down. It sucks!

    March 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tony

    Make it optional. If you like Obamacare and are OK with the benefits/rules/costs, then sign up. If not, you should be able to opt out. This would be fair for both sides.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Q

      I opt for the free program. right now all my hospital visits are free and i like it that way. my house and car are paid for and i no longer need credit....FREE IS FOR ME...................TEAMERICA

      March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • YouDon'tKnowJack

      This doesn't work for a national health care plan, any more than it would for Social Security. Virtually everyone has to be in it for it to work at all. Then the question becomes should we have a national health care plan (or Social Security, for that matter). I think we should, and I think it's a national disgrace that we're the only large country that doesn't have one.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paul Naas

    Control the cost at the source. What is the real margin of profit a pharmaceutical company can charge? what margin can a manufacture charge for a machine etc.
    Raise the medicare tax and put everyone on from birth until death that will provide minimum coverage. I think congress could do this in 5 pages or

    Provided more public medical training – i.e. free schools for medical students.

    Control the costs where they need to be controlled instead of hiding it by making everyone subsidize a system that's already broken. Spreading the cost through forcing people into the private insurance sector does nothing but hide the cost and does not control anything except the profit the insurance companies make.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Totally agree. Seems so obvious and simple. But someone would not like it. Somehow it would become an attack on someone's rights. Gas stations aren't allowed to gouge at the pumps, but hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can gouge at the bedside. Seems crazy.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
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