The Washington Post’s specific target in this editorial is Jeb Bush’s health-care plan, but its argument applies to Marco Rubio’s similar plan and indeed to any attempt to move health-care policy in a significantly more free-market direction than Obamacare. The core of its case is a lightly-examined preference for “comprehensive” health insurance policies that cover routine health expenses. If you want that kind of policy to dominate the market, it can’t be free: People have to be encouraged and even forced to buy it.
In the much freer market many conservatives seek, regulations and tax breaks would be changed so that everyone could afford to purchase a catastrophic health policy. But they would be allowed to purchase comprehensive policies, and policies that fall at any point in the broad spectrum between them. The trade-off they would face is between higher premiums and more extensive coverage, and the government would not be pushing them to choose one way or the other.
The Post denigrates catastrophic coverage as “low value.” But many people might reasonably value a cheap policy that protects them from major financial losses—something that Obamacare, by forcing the purchase of policies that cover routine expenses, often puts out of reach. The Post’s editors think they know what’s good for those people better than they do themselves. They don’t.