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Bizarro Health Care 'Reform': Expect Less, Pay More

Expect less, pay more. It's not the slogan for some "Bizarro World" Target store in a comic book; it's an accurate slogan for congressional Democrats' health care "reform" proposals. They include a new government-run insurance plan, mandatory insurance, new political controls on insurance, and new taxes.

Government-run health plan

You should expect less choice with a new government-run health plan, known as the "public option." As economics professor Scott Harrington has noted, the public option would be the only option. It would unfairly compete with non-government insurers, which must comply with burdensome political controls that increase premiums. Millions of people would be herded to the government plan who did not choose it as an "option."

It's fitting that some House Democrats want to call the government program "Medicare Part E," where "E" is for "everyone." Before Medicare, retirees bought voluntary insurance in increasing numbers. Medicare killed this trend and soon monopolized the market.

Also expect less access, as those with Medicaid and Medicare already know. As Dr. Marc Siegal has noted:

More and more of my fellow doctors are turning away Medicare patients because of the diminished reimbursements and the growing delay in payments. ... The problem is even worse with Medicaid.

But do expect to pay more with a new government insurance plan. Since Medicare and Medicaid underpay doctors and hospitals, they recoup the loss by increasing your premiums -- by almost $2,000 annually for a family of four. To make things worse, proposed Medicaid expansion would further increase your premiums.

Mandatory insurance

Mandatory insurance is a second path towards complete government-controlled insurance. Massachusetts has imposed this on its citizens, and they are learning to expect less. "Long wait times for appointments for new patients continue to be a problem, resulting in delayed access and care," reports the Massachusetts Medical Society. "With our state health reform initiative," said the society's president, "we quickly learned that universal coverage doesn’t equate to universal access."

With mandatory insurance, also expect less value from your insurance policy because politicians can make your current plan illegal. But you'll pay more. A Cato Institute study concludes that "any politically plausible mandate could ... compel close to 100 million Americans to switch to a more comprehensive health plan with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."

Affordable plans become illegal because politicians cave to interest groups who want to force everyone to buy insurance with costly benefits that they may not want. In Massachusetts, such "mandates are helping to drive up costs, making coverage unaffordable as many businesses and workers struggle," reports the Boston Globe. Premium rates in Massachusetts are increasing at almost twice the average national rate. With nationwide mandatory insurance, we'll all be paying more.