NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 6, 2007

While engaged in the raging debate over health care in America, we have to be careful about what we wish for, says Devon M. Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

It's true most people can agree that universal health coverage is a laudable goal.  But use of the term "universal health coverage" appears to mean different things to different stakeholders:

  • For many, universal health coverage means everyone is covered by a health plan; for example, if everyone across the land one day finds himself in high-deductible health plans with Health Savings Accounts, that would be considered "universal."
  • Yet many proponents will be satisfied only if everyone is covered by a so-called gold-plated, comprehensive health plan coupled with mandated benefits and costly regulations, such as guaranteed issue and community rating.

Because these plans are expensive, all universal coverage proposals require lavish government subsidies for everyone whose income falls below the upper middle class. Indeed, most of the proposals also call for a massive expansion of public coverage such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

No matter what terms we use, it is critical to remember there are other solutions besides overpriced, one-size-fits-all comprehensive plans.  Most of the debate seems to depend on which side of the aisle proposes the plan.  Instead, we should focus on helping consumers find a health plan that meets their needs at a price they can afford.

Source: Devon Herrick, "One Health Care Plan Doesn't Fit All," USA Today, March 6, 2007.


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