Tonight’s “Hannity” show on Fox News features an in-depth look at “Keiki Care”, the attempt by the state government of Hawaii to implement a universal health insurance program.
From Griff Jenkins’ blog at Fox:
[T]here are lessons in the land of pineapples that seem lost on its favorite son, Barack Obama.
Hawaii was the first state in the country to attempt universal health care. It was called “Keiki Care” (Keiki means Child in Native Hawaiian) and it was stopped seven short months after it began due to budgetary concerns. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle had signed it into law, but they soon found a whopping majority of those who wanted free health care already had been insured!
You don’t hear the President talk about “Keiki Care” in his speeches. So our mission was simple: talk everyone in Hawaii and find out what happened in the Aloha State.
Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.
“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”
Under the expanded SCHIP program signed into law by President Obama, these children should all be eligible for Federal health coverage, so the Hawiian program would have been rendered redundant anyway.
You might also recall that in 1975, Hawaii first attempted a large-scale reduction in the number of Hawaiians without health insurance by mandating that employers provide health insurance benefits to all full-time employees:
Since 1975, Hawaii has required employers to provide health insurance to full-time employees, defined as those who maintain a work week of at least 20 hours. Employees pay no more than 1.5 percent of their wages, while the employers pay for the remainder. An analysis last month by the Federal Reserve Bank found that the mandate “increased reliance (by employers) on the exempt class of workers who are employed for fewer than 20 hours per week.”
The state’s law at first reduced Hawaii’s uninsured rate from 30 percent of residents to 5 percent, lowest in the country. Insurance costs in lower brackets increased from 8 cents an hour in 1979 to 43 cents an hour in 2005, inflation adjusted, the researchers noted. Some employers were moved by the increase to hire part-time employees, which contributed to the uninsured rate rising to 10 percent of the population, eighth lowest, according to the Hawaii Uninsured Project.
Bottom line: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Mandating health coverage for full time employees resulted in a five-fold increase in health insurance costs over a 30 year period — exactly the opposide of what ObamaCare is promising. Naturally this resulted in fewer full-time employees, or in other words a net reduction in wages earned by Hawaiians. Not exactly a prescription for rapid economic recovery.
Hopefully someone will publicly question President Obama about the results of Hawaii’s attempts at universal health coverage. If it turns out he is “not familiar” with that situation either, then his credibility as an advocate for Federal universal health care will be fatally damaged.
Mickey Kaus on last night’s Obama health care press conference:
Doesn’t [dramatically changing the “health care delivery system”] undermine the reassuring message that if you like your health coverage, nothing will change? Sure. Nothing will change except the entire health care delivery system! Which is going to be redesigned! By experts!
… I know I’d like universal health coverage. That’s been debated ad nauseam. What hasn’t been debated–what have been blessed mainly by pronouncements from on high couched in euphemisms and deception–are Orszag’s “delivery system” changes. I’m worried that they will result in denial of treatments that may be useful at saving and prolonging lives. Obama’s refusal at his press conference to declare that all covered treatments would still be covered is an example of what people worry about. And Obama knows–or even scarier, maybe he doesn’t–that the difficult decisions don’t involve cheap blue pills that are as good as red pills, but treatments that are the “best” but also the “most expensive”–including cancer drugs like Herceptin and Sutent. …