Friday, November 15, 2013

Private Health Insurance Markets Work Well When Government Doesn't Interfere

The bungled ObamaCare roll-out has many Leftist supporters fuming and demoralized. For example, the NJ Star-Ledger laments that Obama's blunder is a disaster for progressive causes

But, in reality, the problem is not the roll-out. It's the policy and the reasons behind it. The editors write:

   The basic idea behind Obama’s reform is that the private insurance markets work well only if everyone buys coverage. If healthy people opt out, insurers are left with a smaller and sicker group to cover their costs.
    Under Obama’s reform, [denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and . . . caps on total coverage] are made illegal. But the math can’t work unless everyone, or nearly everyone, buys a legitimate insurance policy. The principle is that all Americans should carry a fair share of the costs, that no one should get a free ride and rely on charity care in a hospital emergency room in the event of illness.
    All that is reasonable. The problem is that millions of Americans today have flimsy policies that don’t cover basics, like hospitalization and prescription drug costs. The Obama reform sets a minimum standard, and these plans don’t meet it.

I left these comments:

"The principle is that all Americans should carry a fair share of the costs, that no one should get a free ride. . ."

No, the right and fair principle is that everyone should be responsible for his own costs, and no one should get a free ride through government-enforced "charity" provided by hospitals and taxpayers. Individuals have a right only to ask for or provide voluntary charity. The free-rider problem that ObamaCare is supposed to fix is a government created problem to begin with. Remove that and other forms of government coercion from the private market, leave people free to purchase policies of their choice from competing insurers—or not—and the math works just fine.

E.g., pre-existing conditions. No one has a right to expect coverage for an ailment for which he was not previously insured; i.e., did not pay for. That would be plunder. That aside, most people caught without insurance because of pre-existing conditions are victims of prior government interference into the market. For one thing, the third-party-payer system means the individual doesn't own his policy like he does with other types of insurance, leaving him vulnerable to the job market. Second, because of government mandates, insurers aren't legally allowed to sell policies with single exclusions. The result is that a person with a single pre-existing condition can't buy a policy that simply excludes that condition (or includes a grace period before coverage kicks in) while covering everything else, so that person is left with no insurance for anything. 

ObamaCare is not "a disaster for progressive causes." "Progressive causes" are inherently disastrous because they are in fact a regression into tyranny. The progressive worldview implies that there is a right to healthcare. There is no right to healthcare, because that would make providers and taxpayers your slaves. There is no right to enslave. There is only a right to pursue healthcare and other values, not have them provided by others. There is a right of consumers and insurers to contract voluntarily to formulate policies they agree on without having to conform to some government-imposed "minimum standard". The moral imperatives underpinning individual rights sanctions a free market, not single-payer.

Related Reading:

The False Alternative to the 3rd-Party-Payer System

As ObamaCare Failures Pile Up, Get Ready for the Mother-of-All Healthcare Battles

To Deny Collectivism, Deny Collectivist Premises

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