NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 26, 2009

Drip by painful drip, the details of the Democratic health care reform plan have been leaking out. And from what we can see so far, it looks like bad news for American taxpayers, health care providers and patients, says Michael Tanner, senior fellow with the Cato Institute.

The plan would not initially create a government-run, single-payer system such as those in Canada and Great Britain.  Private insurance would still exist, at least for a time.  But it would be reduced to little more than a public utility, operating much like the electric company, with the government regulating every aspect of its operation.

The net result would be an unprecedented level of government control over one-sixth of the U.S. economy and over some of the most important personal and private decisions in Americans' lives, says Tanner:

  • It would mandate that employers offer coverage and that individuals buy it.
  • A government-run plan, similar to Medicare, would be set up to compete with private insurers.
  • The government would undertake comparative-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness research, and use the results to impose practice guidelines on providers.
  • Private insurance would face a host of new regulations, including a requirement to insure all applicants and a prohibition on pricing premiums on the basis of risk.
  • Subsidies would be extended to help middle earners purchase insurance and manage the development of a national system of electronic medical records.

All of this will end up costing taxpayers at least $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, says Tanner.

Even though the American people are right to demand health care reform, most of the ideas currently considered would make the problems we face even worse. Taken together, these ideas amount to a complete government takeover of the American health care system, concludes Tanner.

Source: Michael D. Tanner, "The Obamacare to Come," Cato Institute/National Review, May 21, 2009.

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