Hillary Care, Part Deux

Amid appropriate fanfare, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is set to unveil Hillary Care II in Iowa today. The campaign is not revealing many details about the plan, other than the traditional rhetoric that it will provide universal coverage, more affordable insurance and better care. Whether or not these three goals are compatible would make for an interesting discussion, but one beyond our current scope. Though the details are few, here is what we can predict about what Hillary Care II will mean. We can make these predictions with some confidence after a review of her first disastrous foray into healthcare in 1993 and the woolly liberal rhetoric that we are hearing from all of the Democratic presidential candidates. 

First, the plan will be hideously complex. This is because of her desire to graft a new federal program onto the current system, which is already plenty complicated. Hillary Care I was sunk in large part by the famous chart that outlined dozens of public and private agencies and programs that would have to interact to make the program function. You can bet that some green eye shade in the campaign struggled mightily to reduce the complexity, but after hearing about the plan, ask yourself: How exactly does this reduce the complexity of our healthcare system?

Second, Hillary Care II reportedly calls for a new federal mandate to require large companies to pay for their employees’ healthcare. She obviously wants the rest of American business to become as uncompetitive in world markets as General Motors.  GM, if you don’t know, currently pays more for healthcare for past and present employees than it does for steel. Government mandates almost always get out of control as future generations of politicians seek election by promising more “free” benefits to more and more people. Why would “free” healthcare be any different?

Third, the plan will make individuals more dependent on their employer-provided healthcare, rather than giving individuals more choices to seek their own coverage. Our current bias in the tax code that allows individuals to exclude from federal taxes the value of health coverage provided by employers, while allowing no corresponding benefit to individuals and small businesses who have their own coverage, would remain. Such a system makes it difficult for individuals who leave their jobs to obtain coverage afterward. In a country of high job mobility such as ours, this is a major reason why many Americans are uninsured.

Fourth, the plan will do nothing to make consumers shop more carefully for health services, because third-party payments in the form of government subsidies will increase. Healthcare costs will continue to increase so long as our system lacks incentives for consumers to pay more attention to the costs of their healthcare choices. That is the major reason for escalating health costs in America today, and the plan would do nothing to change that fact.

Fifth, the plan will reportedly require all insurance companies to offer policies to anyone who applies for coverage, even those with preexisting conditions. This can only increase the cost of healthcare for other subscribers, making healthcare less, not more, affordable.

Finally, and most importantly, the plan will require the federal government to become more involved in one-eighth of America’s GNP. Does anyone think that a government that is already overburdened and unable to deliver mail on time, handle natural disasters, educate our children, control our borders, punish and incarcerate criminals — that same government is going to deliver healthcare better and more efficiently than the private sector?

Such a belief represents the triumph for liberals of ideology over the world that the rest of us live in.

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