The Corner

The Washington Post vs. Gillespiecare

I was going to write about the Post’s editorial criticizing Gillespie’s health-care plan (which I wrote about in the Corner), but I see that Jeffrey Anderson has already said what needed to be said.

I’d add only two things. First, the Post favors Obamacare over Gillespie’s plan because its aid is narrowly targeted and phases out the higher people’s income goes. But the Post ignores an important drawback to that type of targeting: It raises implicit taxes on income and thus discourages work. Labor-force participation has been falling, which makes it a particularly bad policy for today.

Second, the Gillespie plan levels the playing field between the “catastrophic” and “comprehensive” approaches to health insurance. The Post sees that as a flaw, characterizing catastrophic insurance as “bare-bones.” But much of the value of health insurance is its protection against catastrophic expenses. Letting people make the trade-off between premiums, deductibles, and co-pays is a good thing, not a bad thing. And the high deductibles in some Obamacare plans make this a less stark contrast with the Gillespie plan than the Post lets on. Indeed, in important respects the high-deductible policies under Obamacare are much worse than catastrophic policies under Gillespiecare precisely because the former cover a larger share of routine expenses and a smaller share of catastrophic ones. Thanks to Obamacare’s minimum-benefit regulations, people face no incentive to control the cost of routine care and then have high costs for care over which they have little control.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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