24 January 2008

Gooz on mandates

From Merrill Goozner's Gooznews: on forcing people to buy private insurance:
... according to the Boston Globe's Health Blog, the intellectual architect of the Mass plan, Jon Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is admitting that a mandate can only work if there are sharp penalties attached to it since many low- and moderate-income households, even with subsidies, can't afford health insurance on their own. It's also likely that some young, healthy workers will skip buying insurance if they can get away with it. "The mandate has to be enforced," he told the paper. “We need to think beyond what looks mean and do what’s right.”

This is a prescription for dooming any national effort for universal coverage. We're going to impose heavy penalties on people who are already having a hard time paying their bills? Don't forget that the bare bones plans they will buy to meet the minimal insurance standards will probably have high co-pays and deductibles. From the perspective of a moderate-income person whose employer doesn't provide health insurance and who doesn't qualify for subsidies, this will cost them more money for the same care they now receive (emergency room care). The only difference is that they won't have the bill collector hounding them (or the hospital forgiving the bill) after they receive care. What kind of plan is that?
I've heard that before -- "This mandate has to be enforced. We need to think beyond what looks mean and do what's right."

Wasn't that Pol Pot's motto?

Slippery slope.

(Whoops. Did that look mean?)

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