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

New controls on insurance

Politicians are also pushing for new controls on insurance companies: guaranteed issue and community rating. Guaranteed issue requires insurers to issue policies to anyone, and community rating forces them to charge the same price regardless of the applicant's health risk. With these political controls in place, prepare to expect less from your insurance but pay more.

You can expect less from your policy with these political controls. Insurers will strive to make their products unattractive to those who need insurance most: those with high expected medical costs. After all, why would insurers want to attract the sick if politicians prohibit them from charging them higher premiums? Expect insurers to skimp on what's most important to those who make insurance claims: comprehensive coverage, clear explanation of benefits, and minimal bureaucratic obstacles to doctor-recommended treatments.

But expect to pay more. Community rating laws increase premiums by more than 20 percent, according to William Congdon of the left-leaning Brookings Institution. States with guaranteed issue and community rating have seen huge increases in premiums, deterioration of insurance markets, and more uninsured.

Indeed, politicians are pushing new political controls on insurance that will make you pay more for less value. These are effectively hidden taxes. But do not forget the explicit taxes. Americans for Tax Reform points out thirteen new tax increases in the House bill (HR 3962). Taken together, several studies conclude that new taxes and political controls will increase insurance premiums. The Wall Street Journal reports that for the young and healthy, "premiums would more than triple in some states."

The Democrats' "Bizarro World" proposals will be a disaster. It will provide them phony justification for incrementally imposing their end goal: a monopolistic government-run health plan.

"Expect more and pay less" -- you only get that in a free market. That is, a market free from political controls where a firm's revenue depends on satisfying customers. But the Democrats' proposals entrench an increasingly unfree market in health care. They limit competition and prevent insurers and doctors from competing directly for a patient's business. The patient is rarely the customer. Instead, insurance companies have employers as customers, and doctors' customers are insurers or government programs.

It's time for free-market health care reforms. These include restoring the patient as the customer by changing the tax treatment of insurance. Government would no longer penalize people for buying insurance directly from insurers or medical treatment directly from providers. This would also increase competition among insurers, as it would allow consumers to buy affordable policies available in different states -- introducing competition and choice into Medicaid and Medicare, which would decrease waste, fraud, and spending, benefit patients, and help avert their pending insolvency. Other free-market reforms include freeing pharmaceutical companies and doctors from meddlesome political controls.

A free market in medicine and insurance is the only way patients can truly expect more and pay less. Can patients be treated like customers while not actually being customers? Only in the backwards Bizarro World of comic books.