Michael Totten

Socialism Without the Socialism

James Becker emails and points me to an article by Ronald Bailey in Reason about a universal health insurance plan from the New America Foundation.
It looks good to me. In fact, I think it’s the best one I’ve seen.
Every American would be required to buy their own insurance. Those who can’t afford it would get assistance from state-funded vouchers.
According to their theory, premiums would be less expensive if everyone had insurance. The risk pool would be larger, and no one would have to make up the costs of treating the uninsured. Since every single American would choose their own company, increased competition would drive down the price. It’s hard to say if they’re right about this, but the price wouldn’t likely go up.
Those with health insurance benefits from their employer could select their own company and policy. Employers would still make the payment, but they would no longer dictate the terms.
New regulation would protect people with pre-existing conditions.
New America Foundation CEO Ted Halstead says the idea is politically independent and centrist.

A policy of mandatory health insurance defies the usual political spectrum. Its universalist dimension should appeal to the left, while its market-based orientation should appeal to the right. The interesting question is who will be first to lay claim to this idea: President Bush or one of the Democratic presidential candidates.

It seems to me that Democrats should like this more than Republicans. Ronald Bailey in Reason calls the foundation a liberal policy shop. And universal health insurance is clearly a job for the left, especially if government assistance is part of the bargain.
But if Reason likes it there must be some centrist appeal. Maybe some in the GOP might go for it, too. It isn’t “welfare,” and it certainly isn’t socialist.
UPDATE: Adam Sullivan has more.