Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

The ‘Public Option’ Isn’t the Only Way to Ruin Private Insurance


The Senate Finance Committee bill has so many problems, it’s hard to know where to begin.  It would raise Americans’ taxes by $2.3 trillion over 20 years (according to Congressional Budget Office projections), an average of more than $20,000 per American household.  It would make buying insurance a condition of living in this free country, requiring Americans to buy government-approved insurance and fining them if they don’t.  And it would increase federal spending by $3.6 trillion over 20 years (according to the CBO), far more than the annual gross domestic products of the United Kingdom, Russia, or France.   But the bill’s two biggest political vulnerabilities are these:  One, it would be financed largely through cuts to Medicare — and if these proposed cuts don’t materialize, it would be financed by future generations, who would inherit its ocean of debt.  Two, it would raise most Americans’ insurance premiums substantially. 
All that, and it might not even lower the number of uninsured.  The Census says that 90 percent of Americans are insured today.  The CBO claims that 94 percent of Americans would be insured after a decade under the bill. But as my piece today in the New York Post with former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt discusses, it’s quite possible that the Senate Finance Committee bill would actually increase the number of uninsured.

You see, the bill would allow anyone to jump on or off of insurance at any time. People aren’t as stupid as the federal planners think, so most people who jump would choose to jump off when they’re well and on when they’re sick, rather than vice versa. The number of people paying premiums would fall, but the overall costs wouldn’t. The clear result? Those who keep paying premiums would keep paying more. This, in turn, would cause more people to jump off of insurance.

The end game, of course, is the “public option.” President Obama would say, “We’ve tried private insurance, and it didn’t work. We need to do what works.” And the “public option” — and government-run health care — would enter the city gates.


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