Thursday, April 09, 2009

Government-Provided Health Insurance: Who Needs It?

We generally don't read other blogs or link to them, our blog being so superior to all others. Today we make an exception for a fine post from "Doug Ross @ Journal." Ross specifically notes (a) the degree to which major news outlets are publishing stories on the need for federally provided health insurance that are in fact news releases created by a liberal advocacy group connected to some rather notorious liberal advocacy groups; (b) the continual distortion of the statistical need for federally provided health insurance.

What all this suggests is either a deliberate blindness to reality or a profound disingenuousness on the part of those who insist that upwards of $600 billion is needed to insure uninsured Americans. Given the actual number of uninsured Americans, either we will buy them the most expensive health insurance ever or we will buy insurance for a lot of people who could get it elsewhere. Or worst of all, both are true.


tim r. said...

I'd be screwed without government provided health care. I'm 31 years old, I have no pre-existing conditions, I exercise regularly, I am somewhat overweight, but don't have hypertension or type 2 diabetes or any other weight related health condition.

And I can't get coverage from any private insurer in the state.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Tim R., the SWNIDish view of your situation is not too little government regulation but too much. First, the Feds (accidentally, because of wage controls in WWII) give preferential tax treatment to employer-provided health care, thus putting individual plans at a premium. Then, states (propelled by interest groups among health-care providers) mandate that all plans must include coverage for this or that, pricing those plans well above the market for them (like requiring all automobiles have luxury appointments; your "in the state" remark is key here).

We believe that your situation would be different if your individual purchase of health insurance, appropriately geared to your present health situation and resources, were possible in an open marketplace that didn't penalize your rational choices or prevent someone from supplying your specific needs. If it were possible for insurers to offer you insurance on terms acceptable to them and to you, without the present burden of your paying with after-tax dollars, might enterprising financiers not see the profit possibilities of giving you what you want?

Something like what we prefer is articulated by WSJ's Jerry Seib today. In what Senators Bennett and Wyden propose, we'd prefer to see more of what Bush and McCain proposed: taxing high-end plans provided by employers (not taxing all employers per employee or mandating their ongoing contribution at their present rate) and opening up the market to all shapes and sizes of coverage. The Massachusetts misadventure seems to demonstrate that a mandate that all must have insurance with a mandate for what must be covered (chiropractors?!) is deadly.

Any such plan will inevitably require subsidies from the government to assure coverage for all or nearly all, per the Bennett-Wyden plan. But government subsidized insurance is very different from government provided insurance, just as food stamps are very different from government-run grocery stores.

Tim R said...

You might be right, we can't say for sure because it would take a radical re-organizing of reality to put that to the test.

I also agree that single payer health insurance is probably less efficient.

I'm just not sure that I believe that large corporations are going to step up and provide much better than they are now.

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