A Confusing Set of Intentions
The sales pitches for the Democrats’ healthcare reform are flying so furiously that it’s difficult to trace the intellectual threads that ought to be binding the various parts of the plan together. Consider:
President Barack Obama has endorsed the proponents of the insurance tax. This says it would help lower health care costs by encouraging people to become more cost-conscious health care customers.
Most high-cost health care plans cover co-payments and deductibles so there is no dollar spent for health care.
Unions argue that they are giving up higher pay to secure better health care benefits. It is likely that insurers will pass on the cost of the tax through higher premiums.
Even if we adjust for the journalist’s poor writing skills, the rhetoric has a thrown-against-the-wall quality. Pull the sticking pieces apart, and this is about what you get:
- A tax on high-end health insurance plans will be levied to help with “covering the uninsured.”
- The tax will be passed on to premiums, increasing the price to consumers.
- Consumers will move away from plans that hide copays, thus increasing their awareness of the costs of their healthcare and making them more likely to conserve.
What happens when people react to the incentives such that there are fewer high-end plans to tax, leaving insufficient money to cover the uninsured? One supposes that the answer would be some variation of, “It doesn’t matter.” It doesn’t matter, because a coherent strategy is not the objective; either an emotional balm or a route to bigger government is.
Democrats and their supporters have spent far too much time rehearsing the Obama school of political salesmanship: promise to heal the wounds of the suffering, mix in some of the opposition’s language so “moderates” can imagine that your policy is economically rational and objectively considered, and pretend the cost will be borne only by the ultra-rich minority.
If increasing “cost consciousness” among healthcare consumers were a goal, there would at least be lip service paid to health savings accounts. If the transfer of healthcare dollars from the rich to the poor were the goal, then there would be some plan to adjust to the predictable free-market shifts caused by government incentives.
Ultimately, the whole thing is either a scam or a failure of thought so thorough as to undermine the very premise that a government organization could operate a flashlight, let alone a healthcare system.