Tom Rexton

U.S. National Health Insurance

6 posts in this topic

Well, as if these last few weeks aren't filled with enough bad news, the Massachusetts legislatures just approved a bill that will provide universal health care coverage in the state, and they hope, will provide a template for the rest of the states to follow:

link

In sum it will do the following (have a puke bag ready):

"Individuals who can afford private insurance will be penalized on their state income taxes if they do not buy it. Government subsidies to private insurance plans will enable more of the working poor to be able to afford insurance and will expand the number of children who are eligible for free coverage. And businesses with more than 10 workers that do not provide insurance will be assessed a fee of up to $295 per employee per year."

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For a conservative Republican, this is individual responsibility. For a Democrat, this is government helping those that need help."
It tried to borrow and blend a lot of different pieces."
Governor Romney[Republican], who is considering running for president in 2008, said in an interview today that the bill, passed by a legislature that is 85 percent Democratic, was "95 percent of what I proposed."

Why not? Let's not be so "rigid": It means anything and everything to anyone -- things are what they are and anything else you want them to be, too. :angry2::angry2::angry2:

Like this:

Individuals who can afford private insurance will be penalized on their state income taxes if they do not buy it. Government subsidies to private insurance plans will enable more of the working poor to be able to afford insurance and will expand the number of children who are eligible for free coverage. And businesses with more than 10 workers that do not provide insurance will be assessed a fee of up to $295 per employee per year...

...this proves at this stage that we can get health insurance for all our citizens without raising taxes and without a government takeover.

See, no taxes and no controls. Just be "flexible" in your "proofs". :wacko:

Wesley Mouch would be proud.

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It is worse than you describe. It is mandated health insurance if you can afford it or not. I could not believe the margin that it passed by, the house approved it 154-2, the Senate 37-0. I guess that if they didnt pass it the US Dept of Health & Human Services threatened to withhold 385 million. I wonder if this isn't some scheme to get this going in the whole country. Unfortunately the real data will de tweeked or discarded to prove the system works; then we can all have it.

Time to shrug...

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If Romney really thinks this is a good idea on behalf of individual responsibility and the private economy then he is too stupid to be president. From the Wall Street Journal:

The law sets up a new board to help determine what acceptable insurance policies look like. Governor Romney is talking about a target price of some $200 per person per month, which is very expensive if his only goal is to tackle the free-rider problem. Over time, such a board is all but certain to be captured by the same special interests that will insist on even more "basic" coverage. And that cost will increasingly be imposed on business. Mr. Romney says he opposes the $295 per uncovered employee fee in the bill that passed the Massachusetts legislature. But that's small change compared with what politicians are likely to demand of employers as costs rise in the future.
The new Bay State law preserves all existing coverage mandates and regulations. Mandates such as "guaranteed issue" -- which means people can wait until they're sick to buy coverage -- and required chiropractor coverage have made Massachusetts one of the most expensive states in which to buy insurance.
But we don't see why a state exchange is preferable to a private marketplace such as eHealthinsurance.com (which doesn't even market individual policies in Massachusetts because of over-regulation).
What the Romney plan really shows is the need for federal law to free up interstate trade in health insurance. Under a bill sponsored by John Shadegg (R., Ariz.), residents of Massachusetts or other states would no longer be held hostage to the regulators, chiropractors and other lobbies that make insurance so expensive. Instead, they could purchase cheaper peace of mind to cover real medical emergencies from more sensible states, such as Connecticut or Iowa.
By making a fetish of "universal" coverage, Governor Romney has bought into a bidding war that Democrats and advocates of socialized medicine are bound to win in the end.

Full article:

The Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Wall Street Journal editorial

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

RomneyCare

GOP governors don't usually grab friendly national headlines. So it's worth paying attention when Mitt Romney of Massachusetts starts getting raves for passing legislation promising "universal" health insurance. All the more so because the details of his new "national model" don't measure up to the political and media hosannas.

Give Mr. Romney credit as a rare Republican willing at least to discuss health care. In that he's miles ahead of GOP Congressional leaders, who won't even vote on pro-market reforms. We certainly favor state policy experiments, and Mr. Romney may have done the best he could given his far-left legislature. The new law also avoids the worst coercive pitfalls of Hillary Clinton's 1993 reform.

On the other hand, his law is far from the market-based approach the Governor claimed in an op-ed on this page yesterday. The core flaw is that the plan forces individuals to buy health insurance, and penalizes businesses that don't provide it, before deregulating the market for private health insurance. So the state is forcing people to buy insurance many will need subsidies to afford, which is a recipe for higher taxes and more government intervention down the road. Could this be why Mrs. Clinton, Ted Kennedy and the Families USA government medicine lobby are all praising it to the skies? Just asking.

Mr. Romney compares his "individual mandate" to the command that everyone get car insurance. However, states only force people who drive to have car insurance, and only then to insure for liability if they harm others. Drivers needn't take out collision insurance for damage they do to their own cars or bodies.

The mandate is also supposed to solve the problem of "free riders" who show up in emergency rooms without insurance and thus stick their costs on taxpayers. But studies have shown that the cost of such "uncompensated care" -- i.e., for people the government isn't already subsidizing through Medicaid -- is a tiny fraction of the nation's medical budget.

Governor Romney could have better spent his political capital ensuring that Massachusetts residents can buy coverage for truly "catastrophic" costs. In Connecticut young people can protect themselves against large medical bills for less than $40 a month. The new Bay State law preserves all existing coverage mandates and regulations. Mandates such as "guaranteed issue" -- which means people can wait until they're sick to buy coverage -- and required chiropractor coverage have made Massachusetts one of the most expensive states in which to buy insurance.

The law sets up a new board to help determine what acceptable insurance policies look like. Governor Romney is talking about a target price of some $200 per person per month, which is very expensive if his only goal is to tackle the free-rider problem. Over time, such a board is all but certain to be captured by the same special interests that will insist on even more "basic" coverage. And that cost will increasingly be imposed on business. Mr. Romney says he opposes the $295 per uncovered employee fee in the bill that passed the Massachusetts legislature. But that's small change compared with what politicians are likely to demand of employers as costs rise in the future.

The truth is that Americans have far better health coverage than the media and liberal politicians contend. A vast and expensive ($330 billion a year) Medicaid system covers people who are genuinely poor, and emergency rooms must treat anyone regardless of ability to pay. In Massachusetts as in every other state, about 20% of the "uninsured" are Medicaid-eligible but haven't bothered to sign up. Yet they can sign up whenever they need care. Another hefty chunk of the uninsured (40%) can easily afford insurance but choose not to buy it. There's no inherent free-rider problem here, since they can be pursued for bad medical debts like any other debts.

The real people to worry about are those who are too well off to qualify for Medicaid but are priced out of the insurance market thanks to mandates and other regulations. The Romney plan will subsidize them for buying the compulsory insurance, but it does little on the regulatory side to make that insurance more affordable. Some of our friends praise the bill for setting up a government-sponsored insurance exchange to help people find coverage. But we don't see why a state exchange is preferable to a private marketplace such as eHealthinsurance.com (which doesn't even market individual policies in Massachusetts because of over-regulation).

What the Romney plan really shows is the need for federal law to free up interstate trade in health insurance. Under a bill sponsored by John Shadegg (R., Ariz.), residents of Massachusetts or other states would no longer be held hostage to the regulators, chiropractors and other lobbies that make insurance so expensive. Instead, they could purchase cheaper peace of mind to cover real medical emergencies from more sensible states, such as Connecticut or Iowa. Naturally, GOP leaders are asleep at this policy switch.

The real health insurance problem in America today isn't lack of coverage per se; it's the inability of insurers to offer affordable policies in many states. By making a fetish of "universal" coverage, Governor Romney has bought into a bidding war that Democrats and advocates of socialized medicine are bound to win in the end.

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If Romney really thinks this is a good idea on behalf of individual responsibility and the private economy then he is too stupid to be president. From the Wall Street Journal:

....

The article mentions "guaranteed issue" which apparently means that an insurance company cannot deny coverage to somebody with a preexisting condition - i.e., somebody who is already sick. (This would be sort of like being able to wait to buy auto insurance until after you've had an accident, and then having the insurance pay costs relating to that occurrence.)

This brings back memories, because the law was like this in Washington a few years ago. Nobody who sold insurance could deny coverage for preexisting conditions. The result? Many people didn't bother to buy insurance, knowing that they could just wait until they got sick, when they "needed" it.

And what the insurance companies did then was to simply stop selling individual insurance. There was a period of about 1.5 years, covering all of 2000 plus some, during which one could not buy a private, individual health insurance policy in Washington.* The only ways to get medical insurance were either as a member of a group (for instance, through an employer) or else by buying it from the state government.

I don't know that this "shrugging" of the insurance companies was based on anything deeper than the realization that nobody could hope to stay in business under these rules. The state had made it so that private health insurance was a guaranteed money loser. How did they expect companies to function under this law? Probably their response would have been about the same as the guy in Atlas Shrugged who told Rearden that "you'll find some way."

Eventually, the law was loosened up enough so that now companies can deny coverage to at least some people who are already sick. So, private individual medical insurance is once again available.

*I think this was the case in the whole state, but I know it was definitely the case in at least a large part of the state.

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The article mentions "guaranteed issue" which apparently means that an insurance company cannot deny coverage to somebody with a preexisting condition - i.e., somebody who is already sick. (This would be sort of like being able to wait to buy auto insurance until after you've had an accident, and then having the insurance pay costs relating to that occurrence.)
It is more than just a "condition", as in over a long term; it literally pertains to any new or emergency issue, so it literally is like buying car "insurance" after an accident. Insurance is regarded as a subsidized service for all health issues rather than as insurance. Several states have this, with significantly higher premiums for everyone as a result. Meanwhile, people everywhere who already have insurance have a hard time when they have a properly covered condition but have to change insurance companies for reasons that have nothing to do with insurance, for example if they change jobs or lose a job. And if you have to buy your own insurance, no matter what your health you have to pay a lot more just because you are arbitrarily classified in a different "group" -- while you subsidize other "groups". The whole system is a mess and state regulations overwhelmingly make private reform impossible. So they come up with something like "RomneyCare" as a "solution". No wonder Kennedy is so happy over it.

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