Mandatory Health Insurance?
By Arnold Kling
Glen Whitman writes,
To enact any mandate, legislators and bureaucrats must specify a minimum benefits package that an insurance policy must cover. Yet this package can’t be defined in an apolitical way. Each medical specialty, from oncology to acupuncture, will push for its services to be included. Ditto other interest groups. In government, bloat is the rule, not the exception.
What I say about mandatory health insurance is that I can be for it in theory but not in practice. That is, I might support mandatory catastrophic health insurance, meaning a high-deductible policy with narrow coverage.
But that is like saying I could be in favor of unicorns. No one is ever going to see mandatory health insurance plans that are narrow in coverage and have the kinds of deductibles that I consider to be high. The way that the Romney mandate worked out in practice, the mandates in mandatory coverage were so broad that 600,000 people who had health insurance before the law was passed were told that their plans no longer qualified as health insurance in the state of Massachusetts.
Also, the Massachusetts idea of a high-deductible policy is $1000 or $2000, which is less than one-third of average annual per capita health care spending in the state. My idea of a high-deductible policy would be something like $10,000 or $15,000 a year. Better yet, a five-year deductible of, say, $30,000.
Needless to say, my idea of an appropriate health insurance policy would not be allowed in any state. Health care providers would go ballistic.
Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer.
UPDATE: Tyler has more good points to make.