There are 218 million licensed drivers in the United States.
An estimated 14 percent - or 29.2 million of them - are uninsured.
This must not stand. It is an American tragedy. The private market isn't working. Obviously the government needs to intervene even more. It is why we need an Affordable Car Insurance Act. The ultimate goal might even be establishing a single payer system.
Let's get at the root of the problem. There are too many people - mostly young - who don't think they need insurance. There are illegals that can't get insurance because they are illegals. There are people with pre-existing conditions - too many speeding tickets, excessive accidents, and such - that can't find affordable insurance policies.
What America needs is a government mandate that everyone over 18 that isn't on their parents' policies must buy insurance. This can be cushioned by requiring insurance companies to keep adult children on their parents' insurance policies until they are 25.
It will be enforced by assigning the task to the IRS to assess penalties at income tax time on a sliding scale based on gross income.
For "fairness" the government will mandate that everyone over 18 get the same coverage. It doesn't matter if they are blind, paralyzed, don't own a car, and have never driven. One-size-fits-all is the only fair way to go as no one is penalized for being different.
No one should be charged more simply because they are inexperienced, under 25, reckless, reflexes severely slowed down due to age or illness, and such things. Those are "unfair" metrics that insurance companies use to drive the price of insurance up.
There will be no litmus test to get coverage included being in the country legally. Of course, if you are an illegal you will get coverage by states willing to extend you free insurance 100 percent subsidized by everyone else.
No effort will be made to address what drives up the cost of insurance: inattentive drivers, speeding, using social media while driving, using substances that slow down reaction time and impair judgment, and emotional issues that led to road wage.
Given Congress is populated with elected leaders and key staff members who either are lawyers or are wannabe attorneys that completed law school but couldn't pass the bar exam - tort reform will not be part of the effort to make auto insurance more affordable.
Then you will sell it to the American people assuring them they can keep their current auto insurer if they want and the ACIA will lower insurance costs.
Congress will vote on a hastily cobbled together ACIA plan that's 7,956 pages of fine print with only three members out of 535 bothering to even attempt to read parts of it. Once passed and they are questioned about serious issues involving the ACIA, they'll simply reassure people that the kinks will be worked out as it unfolds.
The White House will carve out an exception for Congressional staff after they point out not only can't they afford coverage under the ACIA but the deductible is so high it would be essentially worthless to them.
After five to six years of premiums going up on ACIA plans mostly by double digits, people who already were buying insurance seeing their premiums soar, deductibles for accidents skyrocketing past $7,500, insurance firms facing a financial bloodbath, and the government subsidies sucking up every cent in sight, a state - most likely California - will decide the real answer is a single payer auto insurance system.
And instead of learning lessons from Congress that essentially slapped things together without addressing obvious pitfalls, the state Senate will approve a single payer program for auto insurance without any details or even an inkling of how much it will cost.
When an independent legislative analyst says such a plan would cost three times what the state spends in a given year, they say "oh well", we need to take care of it regardless of the cost.
Then when the "opposition" tries to fix it, they'll use the same approach as the people who rammed the Affordable Car Insurance Act and try to push it through, not think it thoroughly, and refuse to work with those who take issue with their efforts.
Meanwhile the auto insurance companies are watching their losses mount while neither side makes an effort to actually move toward a workable compromise solution that will prevent financial Armageddon and further collapse of insurance offerings save for Twittering that they are willing to work with opponents and then just basking in the accolades.
The auto insurance firms prepare two sets of premiums for the next calendar year. Meanwhile they are keeping their fingers crossed that the insurance model they built on what they were told were "guaranteed" government funding promises won't be yanked out from under them.
Of course, nobody in Congress thinks far enough beyond sound bites to realize if that should happen, within a year everyone's auto insurance rates - besides those enrolled in Affordable Car Insurance Act exchanges - will skyrocket as insurance companies can't go bankrupt and still underwrite insurance.
What could possible go wrong with the government taking over a private sector function that has worked for the vast majority of Americans for close to a century just so "everyone" can be covered?
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.