NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 9, 2007

Like Hillary Clinton in 1993, Presidential hopeful John Edwards seems to believe that you can get the private insurance industry to do something it refuses to do because, in essence, doing what Edwards wants would put the industry out of business, says columnist Marie Cocco.

Edwards wants insurers to cover everyone, no matter how sick and expensive they are. He wants employers to continue to carry on their ledgers a cost that is ever more burdensome to them and to their workers, onto whose shoulders more of the health-insurance tab is being shifted.

The main problem, says Cocco, is that his Clinton-like plan doesn't acknowledge that the current system of private insurance is irreparably broken:

  • Since 2000, the portion of businesses that offer any insurance to even part of their work force has fallen from 69 percent to 61 percent.
  • Over the past year, a solid majority of those who do have coverage -- 60 percent -- experienced an increase in the amount they are responsible for paying under their plan, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
  • Almost a third of covered workers reported difficulty in paying for basic necessities such as food, heat and housing because of rising health-care costs.

But Instead of simply asking for a straightforward tax to pay for the ever increasing costs, Edwards falls back on a popular circumlocution, the tax credit, which unlike tax hikes that show up as money withheld from paychecks, act as indirect subsidies that are more difficult to trace.

It makes no sense, says Cocco, to try to shore the health care system with an awkward hybrid of public requirements and private insurance that would keep in place unnecessary complexity and bureaucratic expense.

Source: Marie Cocco, "John Edwards' misguided health-care plan," Statesman Journal, February 9, 2007.


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