The NYT reports that leading Democrats are largely in agreement on how they want to “reform” health care. This is not good news. Michael Tanner, at Cato, sums it up well when he describes their plan thus:
A dog’s breakfast of bad ideas that will lead to higher taxes, fewer choices, and poorer quality care.
Some of these bad ideas are as follows:
An Individual Mandate: Every American will be required to buy an insurance policy that meets certain government requirements. Even individuals who are currently insured — and happy with their insurance — will have to switch to insurance that meets the government’s definition of acceptable insurance, even if that insurance is more expensive or contains benefits that they do not want or need.
An Employer Mandate: At a time of rising unemployment, the government will raise the cost of hiring workers by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fee (tax) to subsidize government coverage.
A Government-Run Plan: Because such a plan is subsidized by taxpayers, it will have an unfair advantage, allowing it to squeeze out private insurance. In addition, because government insurance plans traditionally under-reimburse providers, such costs are shifted to private insurance plans, driving up their premiums and making them even less competitive.
Massive New Subsidies: This includes not just subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance, but expansions of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
Government Playing Doctor: Democrats agree that one goal of their reform plan is to push for “less use of aggressive treatments that raise costs but do not result in better outcomes.” While no mechanism has yet been spelled out, it seems likely that the plan will use government-sponsored comparative effectiveness research to impose cost-effectiveness guidelines on medical care, initially in government programs, but eventually extending such restrictions to private insurance.
As Tanner puts it, “be afraid, be very afraid.”
+ May 2009
+ May 2008
+ May 2007