NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 4, 2008

The rationale for a federal mandate that forces every American to buy health insurance is based on myths, not facts, says Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York and an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

The first myth is that it's fair to make everyone pay the same price for health insurance.  It is not: For young people who rarely use health services, this is a rip-off.  If people in their 20s paid attention to politics and voted, politicians wouldn't dare try this, says McCaughey:

  • According to the latest Census data, 56 percent of the uninsured are adults aged 18-34.
  • Forcing them to be a part of a same-price-for-everyone insurance pool will likely bring down premiums because these young people generally need minimal health care ($1,500 a year, on average, according to a Commonwealth Fund study).

In most states, (but not New York and Vermont), young adults who buy health insurance are charged premiums that reflect their low medical needs; for example:

  • A 25-year-old man can buy a $1,000 deductible policy for a quarter to a third of what a 55-year-old man has to pay.
  • In Manchester, N.H., a 25-year-old man pays $156 per month, while a 55-year-old pays $542 for the same policy, according to

Both the Clinton proposal and the bipartisan congressional proposal prohibit insurers from giving such price breaks to the young.  Their mandates would force the young to subsidize the heath tab for the middle-aged generation.  This subsidy would come on top of the payroll tax younger people already pay to support today's Medicare recipients.  This is contrary to a fundamental American principle.  This nation has always believed in making life better for its children, not exploiting them, says McCaughey.

Source: Betsy McCaughey, "The Truth About Mandatory Health Insurance," Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2008.

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