Say it ain’t so:
AMERICANS seem to like the idea of broadening health insurance coverage, but they may not want to be forced to buy it. With health care costs high and rising, such government mandates would make many people worse off.
The proposals now before Congress would require just about everyone to buy health insurance or to get it through their employers — which would generally result in lower wages. In other words, millions of people would be compelled to spend lots of money on something they previously did not want, at least not at prevailing prices.
Estimates of this burden vary, but for a family of four it could range up to $14,000 a year over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Right now, many Americans take the gamble of going without insurance, just as many of us take our chances with how much we drive or how little we exercise.
The paradox is this: Reform advocates start with anecdotes about the underprivileged who are uninsured, then turn around and propose something that would hurt at least some members of that group.
The fiscal reality is that not all income groups can receive equal subsidies; as a family earns more, its subsidy would probably decrease, eventually falling to zero. But then we are taking money away from the poor as they climb into higher income categories. This is a disincentive to earn more, and the strength of the disincentive increases with our initial generosity. For many people, the health insurance aid would phase out when food stamps, housing vouchers and the earned income tax credit also end and the personal income tax kicks in.
This structure of incentives would likely discourage many parents from earning a better life for their children. Congress could tweak the subsidies so they don’t phase out so quickly, but then we’re back to very high fiscal costs and subsidies for many families in the higher income classes.
A surprising bit of truth telling coming from The Old Gray Lady… I now fully expect to see this news, and the AP piece linked to by Michael Laprarie, featured as updates to Sojourner’s HealthCare Reform: Check the Facts page… after all, aren’t the Religious Left all about doing what’s moral and what’s in the best interest of the poor?