Mandatory health care won’t curb costs

Published on

Marketplace Morning Report – NPR Radio (American Public Media)

The following commentary by FTCR President Jamie Court, was broadcast on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 on American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report program on NPR radio. Click here to listen to the audio of the commentary.

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton laid out her plan for health care yesterday, which includes mandatory health insurance. But commentator Jamie Court says demanding more cost-effective coverage would be a better solution.

Doug Krizner (Host): Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton presented her plan for health care yesterday. Her promise is to provide universal coverage without creating new bureaucracies. Among other things, the Clinton plan requires all Americans to have health insurance. For Commentator Jamie Court, making health insurance mandatory is not a solution.

Jamie Court (FTCR): What do Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton all have in common? They all support the government forcing the middle class to buy a private health insurance policy — but none want to limit how much insurers can charge or spend.

And that’s the problem. Mandatory private health insurance proposals are all stick and no carrot.

The average health insurance premium for a family of four is just over 12 grand per year. What middle-class family making, say, 60,000 bucks per year can afford that bill?

What we need is the carrot of affordable health care. That means government standardizing charges by insurers, doctors, hospitals and drug companies. No more $6 Tylenol in the hospital.

The reason health insurance is so unaffordable today is that no one is watching the costs. With standardization, insurance would be cheaper and people would want to buy it — not have to because the government is threatening them with a tax penalty.

Oh wait, I can hear the plaintive cry of the free market. You can’t tell a doctor, insurer, hospital or drug company what’s reasonable to charge. That’s socialism. Well, how reasonable then is it to tell every American you have to buy a product whose cost is obscene if you want to be a U.S. citizen? Isn’t that corporate socialism?

Mandatory health insurance is a government bailout of a free market that’s failed its customers. Fewer people and employers are buying private health insurance because it costs so much more and delivers so little.

So rather than let customers demand a new and better product, politicians are forcing us to buy it. Whatever happened to creative destruction?

There’s a business plan of course. Mitt, Arnold and Hillary each received six or seven-figure campaign contributions from the insurance industry. The plan is insurers send the bill and we have to pay it.
Jamie Court is president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

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