NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

National Health Care Could Produce a Case of National Hiccups

February 2, 2004

There is no good time to be ill, but it is far better to be in need of health care today than in need under a national health care plan proposed by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), says Investor's Business Daily in a recent editorial.

Kennedy's plan would require employers to offer health insurance, and would attempt to reduce increasing costs of prescription drugs and other treatments by using price setting mechanisms.

  • Kennedy's plan is estimated to cost an additional $100 billion a year; but the cost will not only be in dollars, but also in lost drug development, says IBD.
  • By threatening to put price controls on pharmaceuticals, the development of new drugs would be devastated.
  • Price controls on care and treatment would also have an equally adverse consequence, inviting gross system overuse.
  • There are 44 million Americans without health insurance, but that does not constitute a crisis; people are continually moving in and out of the ranks of the uninsured, with three-fourths of them going without insurance for less than a year.
  • In addition, half of the adult uninsured are under 35 -- which means they are generally healthy and choose to forgo coverage -- and a third live in households that earn more than $50,000 a year; one in seven live in households with annual incomes that exceed $75,000.

Thus, the uninsured are not just the aged and the poor, as proponents of universal coverage would have us believe. Providing health insurance is not a role for government. Only the markets, if left alone, can do the job, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Get Well Soon," Investors Business Daily, January 28, 2004.


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