NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 10, 2009

Whereas the Clinton administration advertised the overhaul of American health care primarily as a means of covering the uninsured, President Obama is making the bolder claim that revamping health care is a way to save money.  He is hoping that a health bill, to be voted on by early August, will solidify his effort to torque America toward the European model of statism, says Mona Charen of Jewish World Review.

According to Obama, health care costs are causing a bankruptcy every 30 seconds. Adding up Obama's numbers -- 120 bankruptcies per hour times 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year equals 1,051,200 bankruptcies per year -- would suggest that only 100,000 of those were for non-medical expenses.  Does that make sense in the midst of a collapsing housing market, asks Charen?

Health care is expensive of course, but our jerry-built system has made buying insurance much more expensive than it should be, says Charen:

  • State mandates require insurance companies to cover a variety of specialized medical services (usually at the behest of lobbyists for the relevant service providers) including: in vitro fertilization, marriage therapy, smoking cessation classes, hormone replacement therapy, chiropractor visits, and so on.
  • That makes it impossible for companies to offer cheap, no-frills, high-deductible plans for the young and healthy.
  • In the 1970s, there were only 252 mandates in force; today, there are 1901, an average of 38 per state.

Government involvement in the health care system, through mandates, reduced competition and a skewed tax deduction that permits only employers and not employees to deduct the cost of health coverage, has made health care more expensive than it ought to be, says Charen.  Yet President Obama proposes that more government involvement will bring down costs and improve quality.

Source: Mona Charen, "Health care bill is the ball game," Jewish World Review, June 9, 2009.

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