Posts Tagged ‘insurance

02
Feb
10

Social Security Numbers: Mandatory Requirement?

Today anywhere we go we are asked to provide our Social Security Number (SSN), whether it be to open a bank account, to have a cell phone plan, to work, to go to school, to get a driver’s licence, etc. It seems that in many cases the number itself is more important than who we actually are. This is why identity fraud is rampant – we no longer need to provide who we really are, we only need to have a 9-digit number and bingo, we are someone else.

How is it that we come to get this number anyways though? Despite some conspiracy theories and maybe some sci-fi movies, I am pretty sure that I didn’t pop out of the womb and the doctor read the SSN off my neck.

Through my research it seems that we are generally given the number at birth by our parents when we are born. Reading from the Social Security Administration (SSA) webpage we read:

Must my child have a Social Security number?:  No. Getting a Social Security number for your newborn is voluntary. But, it is a good idea to get a number when your child is born. You can apply for a Social Security number for your baby when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. The state agency that issues birth certificates will share your child’s information with us and we will mail the Social Security card to you. (link)

It seems pretty clear to me that one can be born in the United States of America – even a natural citizen – and not have to have a SSN. So why do we all have one and what is it used for? And who is telling us that we must have one?

The Social Security Act of 1935 (Pub. Law 74-271, August 14,1935, 49 Stat. 620; as amended; and is codified at 42 U.S.C. §§301.1399) is when it all started. I find it odd that the SSN is not that old. There are still plenty of people around today that never had SSNs until they applied for one. Weird, right? That’s right, people functioned prior to 1935 without SSNs.

The only place that I can find where the law mandates that one has a SSN is in 1943 with Executive Order 9397 by Franklin D Roosevelt. Executive Order 9397 reads: 

WHEREAS certain Federal agencies from time to time require in the administration of their activities a system of numerical identification of accounts of individual persons; and

WHEREAS some seventy million persons have heretofore been assigned account numbers pursuant to the Social Security Act; and

WHEREAS a large percentage of Federal employees have already been assigned account numbers pursuant to the Social Security Act; and

WHEREAS it is desirable in the interest of economy and orderly administration that the Federal Government move towards the use of a single, unduplicated numerical identification system of accounts and avoid the unnecessary establishment of additional systems:

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, it is hereby
ordered as follows:

1. Hereafter any Federal department, establishment, or agency shall, whenever the head thereof finds it advisable to establish a new system of permanent account numbers pertaining to individual persons, utilize exclusively the Social Security Act account numbers assigned pursuant to Title 26, section 402.502 of the 1940 Supplement to the Code of Federal Regulations* and pursuant to paragraph 2 of this order.
2. The Social Security Board shall provide for the assignment of an account number to each person who is required by any Federal agency to have such a number but who has not previously been assigned such number by the Board. The Board may accomplish this purpose by (a) assigning such numbers to individual persons, (b) assigning blocks of numbers to Federal agencies for reassignment to individual persons, or (c) making such other arrangements for the assignment of numbers as it may deem appropriate.
3. The Social Security Board shall furnish, upon request of any Federal agency utilizing the numerical identification system of accounts provided for in this order, the account number pertaining to any person with whom such agency has an account or the name and other identifying data pertaining to any account number of any such person.
4. The Social Security Board and each Federal agency shall maintain the confidential character of information relating to individual persons obtained pursuant to the provisions of this order.
5. There shall be transferred to the Social Security Board, from time to time, such amounts as the Director of the Bureau of the Budget shall determine to be required for reimbursement by any Federal agency for the services rendered by the Board pursuant to the provisions of this order.
6. This order shall be published in the FEDERAL REGISTER. (link)

The important thing here to notice is the “WHEREAS” parts. The first one mentions Federal agency administration while the second, third, and fourth ones clarify that those individuals are Federal Employees and or the Federal Government. Nowhere does it mention that a private-corporation needs to have it’s workers provide SSNs nor does it mandate that Average Joe Citizen have a SSN (unless he is working at a Federal agency).

The SSA admitted this in a letter dated 18 March 1998 from Associate Commisioner Charles Mullen. In this letter the SSA states,

The Social Security Act does not require a person to have a Social Security number to live and work in the United States, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one. However, if someone works without an SSN, we cannot properly credit the earning for the work performed. (link)

This clearly states that the Act does not require a person to have a SSN simply for the sake of having one unless they want to earn credits so they can be a part of the Social Security Insurance Program.

But why are our parents signing us up for an insurance program at birth? Well, as with many things it leads back to taxes. In 1986 the Tax Reform Act mandated that if you were claiming children as dependents on your tax return (to lower your taxes) they had to have SSNs (link). Of course to m this still raises the question of what exactly a SSN was used for originally. Originally it was used to give Federal employees a number and then later for anyone who wanted to participate in a Federal insurance program.

I think it is interesting when we dig into 5 USC § 552a, Records maintained on individuals. Section 552a(a)(13) reads,

the term “Federal personnel” means officers and employees of the Government of the United States, members of the uniformed services (including members of the Reserve Components), individuals entitled to receive immediate or deferred retirement benefits under any retirement program of the Government of the United States (including survivor benefits). (link)

I mention this because a “Federal person(nel)” is anyone who is (a) an officer of the Government of the United States, (b) an employee of the Government of the United States, (c) member of the uniformed services, or an individual entitled to receive immediate or deferred retirement benefits under any retirement program of the Government of the United States. Oddly enough this seems to encompass all Americans – I am not working for the government nor am I a soldier; however, under force I am expecting* to receive retirement benefits because my workplace is taking money out of my paycheck for SS.

* expecting: I do not desire to be in the retirement program and for that matter, I do not expect to get anything due to SS being bankrupt.

All this raises so many questions in my mind of what this entire SS program is all about. It seems by having a SSN I am automatically enrolled in this SS retirement/insurance plan and by proxy I am being classified as “Federal personnel.” What is more interesting is that government (employees) are bound by what the Code (U.S.C) is, which is versus a non-government citizen is not bound by Code but rather Regulations (C.F.R.).

Guess what the Tax Code is largely written in?

You guessed it, only Code. There are no implementing regulations for much of the tax laws.

But what if I don’t want to be a part of the SS retirement plan? While I was under 18 my parents gave me a SSN so they could claim me as a dependent on their taxes. However, now that I am over 18, can I release myself from the program? I would think that I could and should be.

Would my payor can me or would I be protected under 18 USC § 242,

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

or 42 USC § 1983,

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

I don’t know…

The system seems to be a vicious circle, but what I am sure of is this – I do not want to be a part of the SS retirement program. I am good with money and even if I was bad I am pretty sure that I would be better at it than my government.

22
Jul
09

Forced Health Coverage

Excellent! Mandated (read: forced) health coverage, whether or not you want it or need it!

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s dream of dramatically remaking the nation’s health-care system is still a long way from reality. But if lawmakers can reach an accord, one thing is virtually certain: For the first time ever, every American would be required to carry health insurance.

The requirement, known as an individual mandate, is among the most far-reaching changes envisioned this year by those pushing for health-care reform. And it is one of the few common threads running through all three bills being considered in Congress, greatly increasing the likelihood it will survive the legislative process. Obama continued Tuesday to push lawmakers struggling with the large costs and scope of health legislation to move forward, pronouncing reform to be “closer than ever.”

Just as drivers must purchase auto insurance, the medical system of the future would put responsibility for health coverage first and foremost on every adult.

For the vast majority of Americans who have health insurance, the change would mean little more than submitting a form with their tax returns proving that the plan they carry meets certain minimum standards. Many of the nation’s 47 million uninsured people, however, would be required to purchase a health policy or face financial penalties, though waivers or discounts would be provided for lower-income Americans.

The concept is modeled after a requirement instituted in Massachusetts three years ago as part of that state’s broad health-care overhaul. And like the Massachusetts law, the individual mandate proposed by congressional Democrats would be paired with a much more controversial new requirement that nearly every employer contribute to the total cost of care.

‘More affordable for everyone’
“Without an individual mandate, you’re never going to get to universal coverage,” said Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins University.

Bringing everyone into the insurance pool — particularly young, healthy customers — spreads the risk and lowers overall costs. “That will make it more affordable for everyone,” Herring said.

Some proponents of a European-style, nationalized single-payer approach say an individual mandate places an unfair financial burden on lower-income consumers. Some conservative analysts argue that such a requirement forces individuals into an overpriced, underperforming health system.

Yet in a nation that prides itself on having freedom of choice, it is striking that such a wide and diverse coalition has formed around the individual mandate. Labor unions, economists, the medical industry, big business, some prominent Republicans and Obama all support the requirement, which has its roots in the conservative philosophy of self-reliance.

In the debate over Massachusetts’s measure, then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican with presidential aspirations, touted the approach as a “personal responsibility system.”

Ferocious lobbying
Hospitals, insurers and drug manufacturers — salivating at the prospect of up to 50 million newly insured customers — have lobbied ferociously for the federal provision.

Obama, after sparring last year with his Democratic presidential primary opponents over the concept, is a convert, as long as there are “hardship exemptions” for those least able to pay.

“I was opposed to this idea because my general attitude was, the reason people don’t have health insurance is not because they don’t want it, but because they can’t afford it. And if you make it affordable, then they will come,” he said in a recent interview with CBS. “I’ve been persuaded that there are enough young, uninsured people who are cheap to cover, but are opting out. To make sure that those folks are part of the overall pool is the best way to make sure that all of our premiums go down.”

Nearly one-third of the uninsured in the United States in 2007 were between the ages of 19 and 29, and 42 percent were between 30 and 54, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A fair number of young, healthy workers choose not to purchase insurance, believing they do not need it.

Advocates of universal coverage want to lure that group into the insurance pool because they tend to use fewer medical services and help keep premiums down. If only the sick buy coverage, premiums will be high. And visits to emergency rooms by uninsured patients increase premiums for the insured — by $1,000 per person per year, according to some estimates.

The Massachusetts experience with an individual mandate has provided a model, as well as some unexpected results.

“Massachusetts changed everything in the policy community and the political arena,” said Karen Ignagni, president of the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The penalty for Massachusetts residents who do not carry health insurance was $220 in late 2007 and rose to about $1,020 this year. Still, relatively few residents have balked at the idea — and an additional 432,000 people have signed up for health coverage.

Today, less than 3 percent of Bay State residents lack health insurance, compared with about 16 percent nationwide.

Out of the 3.9 million people who filed taxes in Massachusetts in 2008, 86,000 paid the penalty, and 71,000 were exempted because they did not meet the minimum income levels.

One of the great surprises is how many more people — an additional 148,000 — have enrolled in plans offered through the workplace, most likely nudged by the individual mandate.

“It’s worked out better than I would have guessed,” said MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who serves on the board of the Massachusetts program. “We didn’t anticipate the increase in employer-sponsored insurance.”

Last year, the average price nationwide for health insurance purchased through an employer was $12,680 for a family plan and $4,700 for an individual, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In Congress, lawmakers are weighing slightly different proposals. A bill being debated in the House this week would charge individuals a penalty of 2.5 percent of income above $9,000, up to the price of the average premium sold nationwide. The fines would begin in 2013.

A bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last week would set the penalty at $750 per person. Individuals earning less than 150 percent of the poverty level, or about $16,245, would be exempt.

Negotiations are continuing in the Senate Finance Committee, where Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has argued for months that an individual mandate is central to achieving Obama’s goal of near-universal coverage and cost controls.

Stuart Butler, a vice president at the conservative Heritage Foundation, agrees that bringing everyone — especially young, healthy patients — into the risk pool would be advantageous.

But he advocates beginning with a voluntary “opt out” approach similar to automatic enrollment programs for retirement accounts. If policies are reasonably priced, he expects that few will turn down the coverage.

The challenge, said Butler and experts in Massachusetts, is designing a basic benefits package that is affordable. Writing a law that requires individuals to purchase something they cannot afford is “inhumane,” Herring said.

When Massachusetts approved its individual mandate, proponents of the new law braced for a modern-day Tea Party. It never materialized.

“I don’t see people revolting over having to have a driver’s license or insurance to drive a car,” Gruber said. “And we haven’t seen it with the mandate.” (link)

Important or interesting parts bolded by me. So this is what I get out of this whole idea. Regardless of who you are, regardless of what care you need, regardless of what you choose to do… you are going to have to enroll. What the article does not tell you is that there are plenty of people that are enrolled and that don’t use their coverage – like me. I am covered by a nice plan and go to the doctor probably once every five years. Hell, I don’t even take medicine – OTC or perscription – unless I am near my deathbed. I do not use my medical coverage and never really will. It is my individual and personal choice to not participate in the system – partly because I prefer eastern/homeopathic medicine over western medicine and also because I have faith in my body to naturally recover from whatever ailment.

Quite frankly, I am not sure why I have not opted out of my coverage and pocketed the money.

So, why should I be forced into remaining in a plan? The answer they give is that people like me will help lower the cost for everyone. I doubt it. Like I alluded to above, I doubt that I am the only one that has coverage and does not use it. Yet, the coverage remains the same. The real answer is that the government wants to play games with us. They want to control what we can and cannot do. What a better way to control us than to control our health? As the article says above, they will require some sort of minimum coverage. So what does that mean? They will take care of you if you have the flu, but not if you need emergency surgery to remove your appendix? Or maybe that cancer that just popped up, well, that isn’t included in the minimum… but hey, thanks for paying anyways, schmuck.

History has shown and continues to show that the only way to drive prices down and quality up is to do it through competition. You read it right – free-markets. I’m not talking about this molested “free-market” we have now either, I am talking about free free-markets. When people are directly exposed to the prices of a product or service, they are directly responsible for the demand (and indirectly, the supply).  This balance is what gives us progression of products and service, not the enforcement of government to participate.

Furthermore, multiple studies have been shown that there is a large amount of people that are uninsured, can afford it, they just don’t want to enroll. If you don’t understand what I just said, then go watch the videos on my old posts, “Who is uninsured in America?” and “Gillespie Plan: If you want health insurance, get some.”

Wake up America.

12
Oct
08

Gillespie Plan: If you want health insurance, get some.

So many insured people in America… why? The new video can be found here.

This is a followup video to my earlier blog post found here.

19
Sep
08

I am scared…

I think my friend said it best…

WE THE PEOPLE now own asston of homes, an insurance company and about 1 trillion in in unsecured debt.”

Yessssssssssssss!

In other news… 50% of those surveyed say they would rather watch football with Obama than McCain (his 47%)! Awesome! (link) No… really, what the hell is wrong with people? We are more worried about who is going to watch football with us over our country’s ailments? No wonder Obama is leading – issues don’t mean s***!




Quotes:

"We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth... For my part, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst; and to provide for it." - Patrick Henry

"Politicians and diapers both need to be changed, and for the same reason." - Anonymous

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." - William Penn

"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country" - Hermann Goering

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing." - Romans 7:18-19

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

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