Better HeathCare Analogies: Coal Miners and Salt

In the health care debate one of the most common analogies has been to compare mandatory health insurance with auto insurance. I want to throw in a couple more analogies to mandatory health care debate as food for thought. Coal miners forced to purchase from company stores and French citizens forced to buy salt.

Where the health insurance to auto insurance analogy matches up:

  • Its insurance.
  • Its mandatory.

Where mandatory auto and health insurance analogy do not match:

  • Not everyone is required to have auto insurance.
  • States mandate auto insurance, not the federal government.
  • Auto insurance is there to protect harm done to individuals.
  • Mandatory health insurance protects profits of the health care industry.

Another analogy to mandatory health insurance can be found in the early days of coal mining, where miners were forced to purchase from the company store.

Coal Miners analogy matches the health care proposal in:

  • Mandatory purchasing from selected stores and products.
  • Mandatory purchasing increases corporate profits.

Where Coal Miners analogy doesn’t match:

  • Everything miners needed to sustain themselves–food, medicine, clothing and shelter–was a mandatory purchase from the company, with the exception of health insurance.
  • The miners had the option of leaving the company town and seeking employment elsewhere.

A better analogy can be made between mandatory health insurance and Gabelle: the French Salt Tax. Prior to the French Revolution, the government mandated everyone above the age of eight years to purchase a weekly minimum amount of salt at a fixed price.

From The History News Network: Will a 2nd American Revolution be French?

There were a slew of other taxes as well, some of them quite creative. For example, there was a salt monopoly tax by which everyone over the age of 7 (as I remember) was required to purchase several lbs of highly-inferior government salt each and every year. The law also proscribed how the salt could be used and imposed heavy fines for misuse, such as in preservation of meat.

French Salt Tax matches mandatory healthcare:

  • Everyone required to purchase.
  • Mandatory amount to purchase.
  • Doesn’t matter if you can afford to buy either.
  • Protects profits of the industry.

Where the Salt Tax analogy doesn’t match mandatory healthcare insurance:

    It’s salt!

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