Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bad fixes

Pre-ObamaCare health care in America had many critics. Daniel McFadden referred to that "system" as "A Dog's Breakfast." I have kept that clipping around since it appeared in 2007 as a useful classroom conversation starter.

McFadden's essay must be recalled in light of what the apologists are now reaching for as it became apparent that many Americans will not be able to keep their health plans. This morning's NY Times editorialized that those were "Policies Not Worth Keeping". The President just "misspoke".

One could say that the last refuge of a political scoundrel is the rhetorical device of a false choice. The Dog's Breakfast vs. Obamacare. Various state legislatures have been in bed with various insurance companies and assorted lobbyists for years. We get restricted competition (including barriers to inter-state buying and selling of policies) as well as a heap of mandated coverages. We also have favorable tax treatments of insurance plans as long as long as they are employer provided. On top of that we have Medicare and Medicaid which weigh in with their own requirements. Both the private and the public insurers invite price discrimination that pundits routinely see as some sort of fraud

All of this is well known and better explained by health care scholars. Here are five common sense reforms that (sad to say) both political parties have shied away from. It is the old story of bad policies prompting a demand for fixes by way of more bad policy.