Boonton defends ACA on Hayekian grounds

This one is from the comments:

This illustrates what I think is an advantage the ACA has, it’s remarkably flexible and dynamic. Most people who complain about it being too complicated, or too radical, neglect to consider just how complicated and radical their own pet solutions would be. From the left perspective, a national single payer system entails abolishing all insurance and having gov’t set payment levels for all existing and new medical services. You can argue back and forth whether this is a good idea, but clearly it would radically disrupt how almost every American pays for their health care. Likewise even though such a bill may be ‘less complicated’ as measured by some stupid metric like # of pages, it’s not less complicated in its implementation. Just consider the transition to single payer along would probably entail thousands of pages of regulations and multiple court cases. Now single payer advocates can argue that on net it will eliminate the complexity of having doctors billing multiple insurance companies, navigating numerous payer systems etc. But whatever the merits of that argument the system itself would not be free of complexity.

Now consider right wing proposals. Abolish employer based insurance? You’re talking disrupting how nearly 50%+ of working people have had insurance for generations now. Huge voucher schemes to buy private insurance? Err hello the exchanges are only expected to be covering 7M people, and they want to cover 300M+ with vouchers including the entire Medicare population?!!!!

While both types of ideas seem simpler when reduced to some talking points and powerpoint presentations, they really aren’t. They both consist of risky gambles, betting the entire system on a single model and throwing away all other models the economy has on the assumption that they will not be needed anymore (if you abolish employer insurance and discover you screwed up big time, getting it back is going to be hard, so is pulling back Medicare-Voucher, or a single payer system).

Now consider the idea quoted above. It basically sets a cap on subsidy growth at slightly above GDP over the long run. If that results in people being very price conscious about medical expenses and ‘bending the curve’ downwards, that’s fine. But what if people don’t want the curve bent downwards? What if they find that they are willing to spend a larger share of income on healthcare because health care innovations are more worthy than other types of innovations (i.e. such as ’3-d tvs’ or the next generation of ipads)? Then they can. What if they think gov’t should fund additional subsidies? Well that question can be taken up in the future and debated in light with what our budget situation looks like in the future. In the ACA you have a lot of flexibility for the system to evolve because it essentially let’s the multiple systems we have in the US work and allows the ones that work best to expand and the ones that work less to contract. It may very well be that one set of systems is so great that they come to dominate the market (liberals are betting private insurance can’t work in the long run, conservatives that the single payer-systems like Medicare/caid have to eventually convert to private insurance). The ACA could evolve in either of those extremes but it can also evolve into a mixed system (the elderly are on Medicare, the very poor on Medicaid and everyone else is in a robust private market where employer based coverage competes with individually purchased policies)

You also will find a response there from John Thacker.


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