Obamacare

Just How Affordable Is That Affordable Health Insurance?

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Over the weekend, the Boston Globe ran an article warning that, if health care reform passes, insurance premiums (which would be mandatory) could be unduly high, even for those whose premiums are subsidized. It's a reported piece, but the thrust of it seems to come basically from the left: There's some mention of lowering the minimum coverage level (as I've said before, the problem with mandates is that they require minimums), but the chief worry seems to be that subsidies are too low.

This is not a new concern. Liberals have pushed to expand insurance subsidies throughout the year, arguing that although subsidies increase the overall cost of the bill, they make for both better politics and better policy. The reasoning, as I understand it, is that higher subsidy levels help more people—especially the crucial middle class—and that bills that help more people will be more popular, and thus are more likely to garner support amongst legislators, who, after all, are more likely to vote for bills that people like.

But this has always seemed self-evidently wrong. If more subsidies automatically generated greater support, it ought to be easy to just load the bill with subsidies for everything, buy everyone off, and pass it. To some extent, that's what Democrats have attempted to do. But there are real limits to this strategy. At some point, concerns about overall cost trump concerns about subsidy levels. As the piece notes, "because President Obama has put a $900 billion limit on the bill's overall price tag, and because the country is facing mounting deficits, Congress cannot offer unlimited subsidies to those who need help." And it's arguably true that political considerations amongst legislators—the personal biases and interests of the few in Congress who actually get to vote—are as or more important than worries amongst the general public, which tends to be less engaged and less aware of the details of legislation. The result is that a few hundred members of Congress get to decide who pays and how much. Inevitably, that means picking winners and losers.

The broader lesson from this (and many other political and policy disputes over health care reform) is one which liberals seem uninterested in learning: That in the end, the inevitable result of legislation like this is to force individuals and families into situations they don't like, don't want, or can't afford, and to put the power to make decisions about who gets stuck in those situations in the political arena, and thus subject to all the unpleasant bickering and bartering of politics.

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  1. People Joe, MNG, Chad, and Tony have attached their egos to will be in charge, so we’ll all be OK.

  2. it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference how horrible the legislation is or how many problems it creates. it will be because “republicans screwed it up by refusing to be bipartisan”. the democrats will never accept responsibility for their mess, and the media will not hold them accountable either.

    1. “republicans screwed it up by refusing to be bipartisan”

      thats was the line a liberal friend of mine recently gave me as to why the cap and trade bill was so bad

      1. You’d think leaving evil, anti-govt Republicans out of it would result in ‘better’ legislation.

      2. yeah, cause teh evil republicans snuck in a huge amendment in the middle of the night…

        1. Oh, how we yearn for bipartisanship. I remember that time I took a pile of crap (let’s call it D-stank) and combined it with another (let’s call it R-stank); much to my surprise the stinch was so revolting it smelled delicious. Interestingly, people still kept stepping in it. Wtf – I picked up two piles and made one, yet people still kept getting crap on their shoes. I even congratulated myself in a speech.

  3. Public health insurance is just like the abolition of slavery, jazz, and Social Security. It will lead us down the primrose path to Hell!

    1. i don’t mind jazz, but i agree we should abolish Social Security. it’s not as evil as slavery was. but it is evil.

      1. You’re a fucking moron. I hope you don’t get affordable health insurance.

        1. Morris, can I put my hairy balls in your mouth? Don’t make me beg.

          1. Not shaven, T-dog? Color me surprised.

            1. He’s waiting for single-payer waxing insurance.

              1. I thought he used up his rationed waxing insurance on his ass crack.

              2. Toni lost his balls to meningitis.

                And she was lucky.

                1. You libertarians are so clever and witty!

                  1. and you have perspicacity of a cat.

                    1. *the

                      not exactly joe’s law…

                  2. We already know it’s jealousy that fuels your idiocy.

                    Let it go, Edward. Just because you don’t have anything ever remotely useful, interesting, or relevant to say isn’t our fault. Blame lies with the syphilitic whore that shat you out in a alley for rats to rape.

                    1. Can I borrow that put-down? So many people I know who deserve it.

                    2. Only if you promise to say “an alley” to hide my shame.

    2. I think it revealing that you felt you had to go back 75+ years to the 20s and 30s to find your examples. Why didn’t you just pop back to the 60’s&70;’s for sterling examples of nifty new things that turned out so well?

      Why don’t you extoll the virtues of the Great Society welfare system, or the creation of medicare which was going to save so much money? Why jazz and not rap?

      Besides, your logic if flawed. (1) Just because we survived a decision in the past does not mean it was the best decision we could have made back then. We might have found a much better solution than Social Security. (2) You failed to mention all the really, really bad ideas of that era that the conservatives of the day managed to shoot down. Eugenics would be the most obvious example. Eugenics was all the rage among urban sophisticates and the only people who systematically opposed it were religious conservatives.

      Whose to say that socialized medicine isn’t this generations eugenics? After all, the same class of people who believe that the political system can manage health care decisions today are the same class of people back then who believed the political system could manage the genetic integrity of species. What’s the conceptual difference?

    3. Public health insurance is just like the abolition of slavery, jazz, and Social Security. It will lead us down the primrose path to Hell!

      Well, that may still happen – who knows?

  4. The reasoning, as I understand it, is that higher subsidy levels help more people?especially the crucial middle class

    And why should poor people hog all the welfare? That’s unfair!

  5. and i hope you choke on a jack-boot!

    1. morris, that is…

  6. And it’s arguably true that political considerations amongst legislators?the personal biases and interests of the few in Congress who actually get to vote?are as or more important than worries amongst the general public, which tends to be less engaged and less aware of the details of legislation. The result is that a few hundred members of Congress get to decide who pays and how much. Inevitably, that means picking winners and losers.

    Did you just figure this out?

    All by yourself?

  7. Why did we start calling Edward Morris? Fuck that guy.

  8. You can explain to a liberal how inherently absurd it is to think 535 people can manage our health care system for 300+ million people, but it doesn’t sink in. You can explain to a liberal that a President can’t “create” jobs, temporary or government jobs sure. Not Reagan and certainly not Obama. Nor can Congress. All they can do take resources from one sector and redistribute it to another distorting the marketplace. Explain away. “Hope and change” will always trump logic and reason.

    Holy shit, Obama’s speeking. Naturally, he’s congratulating himself and his team. Let me be clear.

  9. The conceptual problem here that the left suffers under is that they believe that the vast majority of the population are idiots who have to be manipulated for their own good. They try to buy off this or that group because they don’t respect the ability of ordinary people to see the bigger picture. They think most people are like children who will focus on the piece of candy they being given instead of the van they are being lured into. They think if they give away enough candy, they can get everyone in the van.

    Unfortunately for them, even people who never graduated high school understand that free can get pretty expensive. Anyone who has ever dealt with government at any level has a jaundice view of how efficient and fair it is.

    1. To be fair, that basic assumption (most of the world is incurably stupid) is shared by most libertarians. We just agree that their stupidity is their own problem (and that failure is the only cure for stupidity) and their problems shouldn’t be ours. So we all agree on the premise, just not the resultant action.

      1. To be fair, that basic assumption (most of the world is incurably stupid) is shared by most libertarians. We just agree that their stupidity is their own problem (and that failure is the only cure for stupidity) and their problems shouldn’t be ours. So we all agree on the premise, just not the resultant action.

        Why should we have bailed out the banks?

        1. QED. We believe the idiots should have had some consequences for their idiocy. Since they haven’t had any consequences, they learn that idiocy pays and will keep doing it. Sort of like government…

          1. By the way, what in the world gave you any idea that I thought we should have bailed out the banks? I look in vain for anything that would possibly give anyone that idea since I said that failure is the cure for stupidity. That doesn’t sound like a call to bail them out, but what do I know? I just wrote that bit.

      2. Libertarians believe they better understand the limits of human knowledge. Libertarians believe other people are “stupid” because those others refuse to see the limits of their own understanding.

        You don’t find libertarians who believe that they understand how to run an entire industry, e.g. oil, power, agriculture etc but it is very common to find leftists who believe they understand virtually every facet of life to such as extent that they can substitute their own judgement for that of the people who have spent their lives working in every field. The vast majority of arguments between libertarians and leftists boil down to the libertarians trying to explain to the leftists why the leftists aren’t as smart as they think they are.

        Leftists all view themselves as part of small elite whose superior judgement gives them an inherent right to rule. Libertarians believe that no one has such superior judgement.

        1. Leftists all view themselves as part of small elite whose superior judgement gives them an inherent right to rule. Libertarians believe that no one has such superior judgement

          Even if someone actually had such superior judgement, a right to rule over others would not follow.

  10. If Pilt-down Man had the Public Option He wouldn’t be extinct.
    Market Failure!

  11. If Pilt-down Man had the Public Option He wouldn’t be extinct.
    Market Failure!

    1. ok, it’s only funny once…

      1. Stupid people tend to repeat themselves.

  12. Everybody’s stupid — that’s why it’s stupid to have some stupid people forcing other stupid people to do stupid things. We should all be free to be stupid and do our own stupid things, unless it stupidly violates some other stupid person’s stupid rights.

    1. not me! i’m smrt!

      1. Smart like Fredo? Look what happened to him!

        1. Fredo was weak and stupid! He shouldn’t have eaten that key.

          1. I’m smot!!!!!!!!

  13. “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” – P.J. O’Rourke

  14. My take on this is that the mix of penalties and incentives isn’t going to motivate many people who don’t have insurance now to get insurance.

    Meaning that we’ll get the expense driver of no-pre-existing-conditions, without the income item of lots-of-new-policyholders. More expense, spread over pretty much the same pool of insureds, equals higher premiums.

    Its not rocket surgery, folks.

    1. I can’t tell if the mandate is there to hide the cost of the bill, or is there to pretend to pay for the insurance w/ the expectation it will be struck down as unconstitutional (so as to collapse the insurance industry).

      1. I’m hoping it’s there so that the Supreme Court will find Obamacare unconstitutional.

        (It’s the Xmas season, what can I say?)

        1. They won’t find it totally unconstitutional. They might strike down pieces. For instance, if the mandate was there to get the insurance industry on board w/ the hopes of it being struck down (and Obama’s people would be the ones arguing for constitutionality whether they want it upheld or struck down), then Obama’s hands would be clean of the lie they told to get industry support.

          1. The SC failed to shitcan McCain-Feingold. It’s futile to hold out hope on them ever getting it right again.

  15. That in the end, the inevitable result of legislation like this is to force individuals and families into situations they don’t like, don’t want, or can’t afford, and to put the power to make decisions about who gets stuck in those situations in the political arena, and thus subject to all the unpleasant bickering and bartering of politics.

    That describes all legislation. If it was something people wanted, you would not need legislation for it.

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