HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Universal Health Care

Ezra Klein has an interesting post on what Universal Health Care (:UHC") will look like here in the United States.  He argues:

As for what UHC will look like? My best guess is that eventual reforms will heavily subsidize private insurance coverage up to 300 or 400% of the poverty line, but the private coverage will be provided under a heavily-regulated government umbrella that eliminates adverse selection, mandates various coverage components, and generally imposes a basic floor of coverage. This may happen under an expansion of the Federal Employee Health benefits Program. It will be paid for through a dedicated VAT tax, and the uninsured will be eliminated through an individual mandate.

There is, obviously, a certain error range here.  I could certainly see a Medicare Plus scheme, a la Jacob Hacker, where businesses and individuals are offered the option to buy into an enhanced Medicare program, but can, if they choose, retain private insurance options. The problem with something like that is that insurers will have all the more reason to cherrypick, but the ability of government to bargain down prices will probably chop apart the relative premium savings of the private sector. It's also possible to outlaw underwriting and cherrypicking altogether, though I see that as somewhat -- though not totally -- unlikely. A healthy, fit, young friend of mine was just denied coverage on the individual market for the sole reason that he took an anti-anxiety drug over the last year. No health problems, no congenital deformities, he just had the audacity to actually utilize some health care. That's an unsustainable situation, and whatever the reforms look like, I don't expect it to continue for much longer.

I agree that our current health care system is a mess but I am not sure that this is the answer - hopefully now that the elections are over we will start having more conversations about how to better deliver health care to all who live here..

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