Friday, December 04, 2009

Opposite ends of the spectrum

Reason's Martin Bailey occasionally writes about "Markets, Not Mandates". In the January 2010 issue (not the one linked; the new one not yet online), he notes that if the tax credit now available only via employer purchased health insurance plans were universally available, many people would shop for cheap high-deductible policies.

Such policies are already available. The online clearinghouse eHealthInsurance pulls a quote of $131 per month from Anthem Blue Shield for a single 55-year-old male with a $3,000 annual deductible, no co-payment after the deductible, reasonable pharmaceutical benefits, and lifetime maximum benefits of $7 million with an option for health savings accounts. ... That was the cheapest plan, but more than 80 other insurance policies were available. As deductibles went down, of course, prices went up.

But imagine what would be available if the tax credit were widely available and if competition were not stifled by politicians.

It is, of course, revealing that the "reforms" that get all the attention (and that are likely to become law) are at the opposite end of the common sense spectrum. I can understand what the political class wants. It gets a little weirder when one tries to fathom how and why so many of the "elites" are in love with the most unpromising, the most expensive and the most politiczed plans.