Saturday, February 10, 2007

Double Dipping

A post made over at John Edwards' blog. It's the first time I've ever actually put something up on a community blog site. We'll see if I can manage to make it past the guardians at the gate. Anyway, here's the post, just in case it never sees the light of day elsewhere.

I just finished reading Paul Krugman's very nice review of Edwards' health care plan. I figured that I'd go ahead and read the plan, too, while I was at it. I like to be thorough, you see.

Now don't get me wrong. I like the plan. I think that it's the best thing currently on offer. And I like the notion of letting government plans compete with private insurers. I've libertarian leanings, so this sort of thing warms my marketist little heart. I must say, though, that parts of it leave me somewhat puzzled.

It seems to me that the plan is needlessly complicated. It sets up whole new levels of bureaucracy that, I would think, are not actually necessary. So, bearing in mind that I'm hardly an expert on health care, economics or public policy, here's my simplified version.

1. Ditch the Health Markets. After all, health markets already exist. Even as we speak, I can go to Blue Cross or Aetna or a whole host of other insurance companies. I can choose from among different sorts of coverages and different sorts of prices. There's already a market here. We don't need to create one.

2. Open Medicare to everyone. Part of the reason that I can afford to be so glib about the market for health care is that I'm relatively young and in quite good health. Plenty of people are happy to give me insurance. Or would be, anyway, if I were willing to pay them for it. Lots of people aren't so lucky. So, rather than creating Health Markets, which will require whole new levels of managers and the like, raising administrative costs for everyone, simply allow anyone who wants to opt into Medicare. Set a yearly premium and then open it to everyone.

3. Break the employer/health care link entirely. The Edwards' plan recognizes that relying solely on employers to provide health care for Americans isn't working. But the plan moves in the wrong direction. Rather than requiring employers to provide health insurance, the plan should require that employers either pay for health insurance or offer equivalent cash payments to employees. Then require individuals to carry insurance.

Obviously this is all oversimplified at this point. Still, simply allowing anyone at all to opt into Medicare eliminates the cumbersome extra step of creating Health Markets while retaining all of the benefits.

Plus it's much simpler to explain. "Allow all Americans to buy into Medicare" makes for a nice bullet point on a direct mail piece. Explaining what a Health Market is and why it's a good thing -- that's going to take up way more copy.

You can see it here. Maybe.

UPDATE: Looks like my post is going to get dinged. I had two votes to put it up last night. Now I'm sitting proud with a -1. My opinion of Edwards remains unchanged. My opinion of Edwards' supporters is taking a bit of a hit.

UPDATE 2: I seem to have made the cut. You can see me (for now) on the front page of John Edwards' blog. My faith is restored.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by . . .

USMA . . . hmmmm . . . that must have been interesting. I went to Annapolis.


PS Nice writing.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Joe Miller said...

Thanks Anglico.

We should chat sometime about Annapolis. I hear that, for civilian faculty anyway, Annapolis is actually much nicer than West Point.

And thanks for adding me to the BlueNC blogroll.

1:37 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home