Many people seem to be quoting this statement from Bill O’Reilly:
… I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a [sic] option, that if they dont like their health insurance, if its too expensive, they cant afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.
I’ll argue that O’Reilly hasn’t said anything of substance here. Not because I think we should abandon the people he speaks of, those who (genuinely) can’t afford it; I don’t. But he’s wrong in his assumption. How will the government offer the same benefits for less money?
Two ways to pay for this seem apparent: subsidies and hiding costs. The latter is reprehensible but the expected outcome. Just look at how we currently treat the solvency of Social Security and it’ll be clear that politicians will never admit the truth about costs when they can hide them. (The last resort option is to blame it on the other party and claim that this proves we need more government to oversee the bad people, a group to which the current politician will never claim membership.)
But if I assume this won’t happen, then that leaves subsidies. If we’re going to subsidize, why not subsidize the private insurance for those who (genuinely) can’t afford it rather than restructure the entire system?
For what it’s worth, insurance is expensive at least in part because government regulates (i.e. limits) the amount of competition in the insurance market. If you could buy insurance across state lines, you wouldn’t be captive to the specifics of your state. And so on.
Via Andrew Sullivan.