The Easy Fix For Health Care and Why Obama Opposes It
The health care reform debate is raging. Despite all the money being spent to convince the American people of Obama’s health care vision, a large segment of society is not convinced. Why is it hard to convince some people? Some distrust government, some believe government should not be a part of the health care industry and some believe there are better reforms to be made. You can put me in all three camps.
There is a change to the way we receive health care that would do way more good than Obama’s agenda and it would not require a bunch of teleprompter speeches and USA Today articles (Pelosi) in order to sell it to the American people, because it is a mechanism that we are all too familiar with. Unfortunately, Obama is completely against it.
Health care could be drastically improved and be made much more affordable if individuals were allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines.
Why We Can’t Buy Health Insurance Across State Lines
Currently, we aren’t able to purchase a health insurance policy from another state. The main reason for this is because states mandate various things on insurance policies and these vary from state to state. The National Center for Policy Analysis describes it in the following way:
The cost of individual health insurance varies widely from state to state. In a January 2006 report, The Commonwealth Fund compared the prices of individual health insurance policies in seven states with varying degrees of regulation. The price of policies varied tremendously, due mainly to state regulations rather than variation in health care costs.
research illustrates how regulations can impact the insurance market. But it is no accident — rather it is by design. In states where health insurance costs are the highest, a portion of the premiums paid is being used to cross-subsidize the premiums of high-risk individuals.
Another WSJ article entitled “Cheaper Health Insurance” provides a few examples of these mandates from 2005 (may have changed since then):
New York requires every insurance policy sold there to cover podiatry. Acupuncture coverage is mandated in 11 states, massage therapy in four, osteopathy in 24, and chiropractors in 47. There are an estimated 1,800 or so such insurance “mandates” across the country, and the costs add up.
To illustrate, a 25-year old male in good health could purchase a policy for under $1,000 in Kentucky, yet in New Jersey it might cost upwards of $6,000. Simply put, the state’s regulations on health insurance cause health insurance costs to be higher and because you can’t buy insurance outside of your state, you are stuck with higher costs if you live in a state with a high number of mandates; this leads to a lack of affordability for many people.
How An Interstate Market Would Work
It’s simple. We buy just about everything BUT health insurance in this manner. If you aren’t satisfied with the health insurance options in your own state, you can buy a policy from another state. We buy every other sort of insurance this way as well as every sort of consumer product.
As in any market for any product, more competition results in lower costs for the consumer. More options mean more affordability. As you hear Obama himself discuss in this debate, a public option would result in another option for consumers which would lead to more competition and more affordability. Opening up the market across state lines would provide a whole heck of a lot more competition than a Federal option! If more options for Americans were truly his goal, wouldn’t our President be pushing an interstate market?
There are two forces working against enabling an interstate health insurance market:
- Most Americans are used to getting health insurance through an employer plan
- Politicians, mostly on the left, including President Obama oppose such a market
A Few Notes On Employer Plans
There is nothing particularly wrong about getting health insurance through an employer-based plan. It makes us feel like we’re getting something from our employer (benefits).
Those who oppose buying health insurance on an individual basis will claim that you’re trying to put the cost on the individual and not the employer. This is not true. An employer could reimburse an individual for health insurance costs just as easily as they provide a plan for them.
An interstate health insurance market would provide a myriad of options for individuals buying health insurance, and there are plenty of ways to ensure that employers can still offer reimbursement as an employee benefit.
On a political note, it is the general goal of libertarians and real conservatives to provide more freedom and choice on the individual level. Typically, the liberal point of view is that government should provide more options and that individuals do not possess the knowledge or desire to make their own decisions. Acquiring health insurance is no exception to this rule.
Why Obama Does Not Want You To Have Interstate Health Insurance Options
I believe that Obama leans towards the view that more of an individual’s life should be under the watch of the Federal government. This is especially true when it comes to your health care. Government health insurance, health care rationing according to government’s view of the “greater good” are just a few examples of this. By using words that we all identify with such as “affordability” and “increased competition”, many people believe Obama’s intentions are in our best interest. But are they?
As I mentioned above, Obama often explains that his goal is to offer people more options for health insurance and provide more competition in the market place. Is this true? Put your political views aside and tell me why he would not be for you being able to buy health insurance from another state.
In a WSJ article from back in the Presidential campaign during 2008, the author explains why Obama is against an interstate market:
First, he doesn’t believe a market can work in health insurance. He believes it is necessary for the government to look over everybody’s shoulder to make sure patients are getting the care and coverage the government thinks is appropriate at a price the government considers affordable.
When McCain was promoting this concept while running for President, Obama ridiculed him by saying “he wants to run health care like they’ve been running Wall Street.” By Wall Street, I assume Obama merely means a marketplace environment. Is that really that bad? Isn’t that how we run just about everything? Is the auto insurance market a disaster because it’s run “like Wall Street”???
You Have To Wonder What The Real Agenda Is
If the idea of allowing interstate competition seems logical and simple to you, it’s because it is. So, why isn’t this happening? There are politicians like Senator DeMint of South Carolina pushing this concept, and Senator McCain presented it during last years presidential campaign.
I think it’s obvious that increased competition and additional options for Americans isn’t the main goal of many of our leaders. What is then, the real agenda behind a “public option”? Could it be a tool to transition towards complete government-run health care? Is that really so far fetched?
Forget the speeches and the political rhetoric. Instead, ask your representative why we can’t buy insurance across state lines. If they can’t convince you why interstate health insurance competition is a bad thing, tell him or her to expect to be out of a job come 2010. If they can’t convince you how a Federal public option results in more options for you than opening up the other 49 states, tell him or her to expect to be out of a job come 2010.
Do you want to be able to buy health insurance like you buy every other product or would you rather be told what medical procedures you can or can’t qualify for by a government beaurocrat? Better make your voice heard now before it’s too late…