The John Edwards health insurance plan

Kevin Drum writes:

John Edwards’ new healthcare proposal is, basically, an individual mandate (everyone is required to get health insurance coverage somehow) combined with community rating (private insurers have to take all comers, regardless of medical condition) and government subsidies (the feds will pay for insurance if you’re too poor to afford it).  Private insurance would be available through a mechanism Edwards calls "Health Markets."

Edwards is honest enough to tell us this will raise our taxes.  Kevin Drum is honest and he tells us that the best hope for this plan is evolution toward a single-payer system.  Here is Matt Yglesias, here is Ezra, here is more

Loyal MR readers will know that I do not favor a single payer system but I can appreciate its logic.  If we are going to regulate insurance companies very heavily, they become a superfluous middleman and a source of manipulation, while yielding few offsetting benefits. 

In the United States doctors (check out those wages) and insurance companies are far more politically powerful than elsewhere.  You might think that makes our health care system worse, if so it will make our health care reforms worse too.  If anything happens, those groups will have a veto, more or less, on the distribution of the resulting rents.

I believe that the best and most intelligent Democratic bloggers are already rooting for an evolutionary path whereby the first-step reforms — whether at the state or federal level — eventually succeed only by making matters intolerable and unprofitable for doctors, insurance companies, and perhaps hospitals as well.  After profits have suffered enough, perhaps everyone will see the light at the end of the tunnel and simply abolish those nasty private health insurance companies.

Given how politics actually works, I do not consider this a promising sign for the future of American health care reform.

Addendum: I did very much enjoy reading the first comment left on this post…


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