NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 7, 2008

Hillary Clinton's "individual mandate" for health care, is being exposed by fellow Democrat Barack Obama for its inevitable government coercion, says the Wall Street Journal.

Under HillaryCare II, everyone would be required to buy health insurance, along with more insurance regulation, a government insurance option for everyone and tax hikes.   Obama likes all that but his mandate would only apply to children.  He argues that the reason many people aren't insured is because it's too expensive, not because they don't want it.  Clinton counters that coverage can't be "universal" without a mandate.

HillaryCare II isn't about "choice," but would require financial penalties for people to comply, including garnishing wages.  To put it more accurately, the individual mandate is really a government mandate that requires brute force plus huge subsidies to get anywhere near its goal of universal coverage, says the Journal:

  • Mitt Romney's mandate program in Massachusetts is already expected to reach $1.35 billion in annual costs by 2011, up from $158 million today.
  • And that's with only half of the previously uninsured currently enrolled; no less than 20 percent didn't qualify for subsidies and were granted exemptions because the costs were too much of a hardship.

Most experts calculate that a national mandate with subsidies like Clinton's would enroll about half to two-thirds of the uninsured, less for a voluntary plan and subsidies alone.  But such guesswork is pointless without the basic enforcement assumptions, which Clinton refuses to provide.

The political lesson that Clinton learned in 1994 wasn't about compromise or market forces.  It was that a government health-care takeover can only be achieved gradually and by stealth.  Her individual mandate is an attempt to force everyone to buy into a highly regulated and price-controlled system where government redistributes income and dictates coverage, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The Wages of HillaryCare," Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Health Issues