A few weeks ago, in the middle of the evening rush hour and during one of Washington, D.C.’s infamous summer rainstorms, I was side swiped. The fault was completely on the part of the driver that hit me. After this lovely woman insisted, while screaming at the top of her lungs, that the accident was my fault, we exchanged the necessary information. I looked down to the portion of the torn piece of paper where she had written her insurance information, and saw that she had listed a company called MAIF as her automobile insurer. I thought innocently, “huh, never heard of these guys before.”
When I got home I Googled “MAIF,” and was shocked at what came up. Turns out MAIF stands for the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, which was, according to the Web site, “created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1972 for the purpose of providing automobile liability insurance for those residents of the State of Maryland who are unable to obtain it elsewhere in the private insurance market.” What does this mean? It means the state of Maryland has a government run and subsidized car insurance program for residents who have been priced out of the commercial auto insurance market. This usually happens due to drivers being involved in multiple car accidents, which causes insurance premiums to increase until they eventually become unaffordable. I’m not a resident of Maryland, and I’m a liberal who believes in big government, but I’d be pretty teed off if I knew that even one penny of my tax dollars was going directly or indirectly towards a program that seems to have been designed to help insure reckless drivers. I’m all for universal coverage when it comes to health insurance, but for car insurance – nope not on my dime.
We know all too well, that many Americans are priced out of the commercial health insurance market, mainly due to pre-existing conditions that are no fault of their own. Essentially we blame our citizens for getting sick. From an ethical standpoint, universal coverage for health insurance makes common sense. Why should the United States of America, the presumed greatest nation on the earth, deny even one of its citizens access to affordable and adequate healthcare? This is the core of the issue – access to healthcare in a country like America should be counted as a God given right, especially given that so many of our modernized and even less modernized peers consider it to be so. Universal coverage for healthcare would inevitably save lives and drive down costs.
On the other hand, the state of Maryland seems to think that universal coverage for car insurance should be the standard and has chosen to indirectly subsidize something that is not a freedom, a right nor an issue that is of significant moral value. Driving should be considered an earned privilege. Additionally, whereas in healthcare, consumers being priced out of the market is a bad thing because it prevents people from being able to seek medical attention, consumers being priced out of the car insurance market is a good thing because it keeps reckless drivers off the road. If MAIF didn’t exist, the woman who hit me probably would have been on the bus that rush hour, not on the road as a danger to me and other drivers.
I certainly don’t want to add any more fuel to the raging fire that has become the debate over healthcare. However, as far as health insurance is concerned, a shift in policy towards the left that includes universal coverage could save lives, whereas this same policy implemented in the car insurance market, sadly, could end up costing some.