Only two groups of Americans should worry about Hillary Clinton’s new health-care plan: the healthy and the sick. The healthy are going to pay more, since one of Clinton’s ideas is to prohibit insurance companies from giving them a discount.
For many of the sick, the Clinton plan will mean worse care. She promises to generate $35 billion in savings by insisting on “best practices” and reducing the “geographic variation in care.” These are code words for rationing. And there will be more rationing to come. Clinton’s plan is likely to cause health costs to rise. For one thing, it expands every government health-care program in sight, including the ones that are already insolvent. Government-imposed rationing will be the only way to control these costs once her system is in place.
The federal government provides a tax break for employer-provided coverage; Clinton would take it away from high-income workers. Something like that could be done as part of a tax reform that would reduce the federal government’s distortion of health markets. But the way she does it, it’s just a tax increase — one of many in her plan.
Senator Clinton is being treated as a political genius for leaving all the unpleasant parts of liberal health reform for later. Her plan features no explicit rationing, and she even claims that it would create no new bureaucracies. (Then who’s going to keep track of whether everyone has complied with the mandate to get health insurance?) Republicans should fill in the blanks, and explain that there are better ways to reform health care.