Thursday, December 05, 2013

Putting The Comp Back In Competition

I was recently at a party in Silver Lake.  One person was holding forth on Obamacare.  He wasn't thrilled with the troubles it's been going through but he's sure it will ultimately win the day.  And he believes--as do I--that the whole program is built as a slippery slope into single payer.  Our difference is he thinks that's a good thing.

He explained how people will get used to getting this service from the government, just like Medicare, and then won't want to do without it.  They'll understand, then, that the best way to do this thing is through the government taking over more and more.  I didn't argue with him (it wasn't really that kind of a party) but I found it interesting how he put it.  He said we need federal regulation to make sure everyone gets it right--none of this "Wild West shit" that's been causing so much trouble.

So that's how the left sees competition, even competition between state governments--Wild West shit.  He just wants everyone (especially the well-off) to throw more money into a pool and have the government decide how to dole it out.  If you honestly feel that people getting to make choices is a bad thing, I can understand why you'd support Obamacare.  In fact, I'm not sure why you think people spending their own money on most products would be a good idea.

PS.  I also saw this New York Times piece against some more Wild West shit where a group is campaigning to have the young opt out of Obamacare.  This group suggests if you don't sign up, there's only a small penalty (excuse me, tax) and you can buy your own insurance much more cheaply--for instance, in Virginia the cheapest available is $40.84 a month.

Apparently this suggestion deeply offended staff editor Juliet Lapidos.

That advice is both terrible and nonsensical.

Let’s start with the terrible part.

I checked out the $40.84 a month plan, now selling for $46.25 and, surprise surprise, there’s a reason it’s cheap. It doesn’t cover office visits for primary care doctors or office visits for specialists. It comes with a $10,000 a year deductible. If you end up in the emergency room, you have to pay 20 percent co-insurance after the deductible. Same with outpatient surgery and hospitalization.

Yes, Juliet, that's the whole point of bare-bones, catastrophic insurance.  You're betting you won't need something at all, or very little--a good bet for health coverage if you're in your 20s. (The planners of Obamacare knew it was a good bet, since they're planning to leverage young people so others can pay less than they would otherwise.)  If something goes wrong, you end up paying a few hundred, perhaps even several thousand.  But if there's complete disaster, and the cost goes into the tens of thousands or more, you're covered.  And this is the cheapest deal of all--if you want to pay a bit more, you can get better coverage, and still pay less than the Obamacare price tag.  Apparently,  merely allowing this choice to young people (and the pitch is to young people) gives Lapidos the shivers.

Onto the nonsensical.

After January 1, no matter where you buy insurance — through an exchange or directly from an insurer through an agent — the basic rules will be the same. All insurance plans will have to meet government standards: essential benefits, tiers of coverage, no discrimination for pre-existing conditions and so forth. That means cut-rate policies like the one recommended by Generation Opportunity won’t exist. You can buy it in these last two months of 2013, but when you renew it in 2014, it’ll look completely different and will cost more.

So in other words, you thought Obamacare was bad, but it turns out to be a hundred times worse.  The law is written so that's there's no escape--you will do it the government way or nothing!  Remember the good old days when at least they pretended this wasn't a government takeover?

So stop complaining about Obamacare and join up.  Resistance is futile.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey competition has lead to reality shows on history, arts and learning cable channels, lets let it have a go at health care too.

5:38 AM, December 05, 2013  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Making "sub-par" plans illegal is indeed one of the key components of the law.

If it were truly compulsory to buy approved-level insurance (e.g., you went to prison if you didn't), then it would make sense for the government to ban insurance that doesn't meet that level. But regardless of the motives for making the penalty/tax so low, the fact that it is low means that the authors of the bill knew that some people would choose not to buy approved-level insurance.

Given that fact, wouldn't it be better to let those people buy catastrophic insurance rather than nothing at all?

Another question. Can an American citizen living in the USA buy a catastrophic insurance policy from a company based in, say, Switzerland? This citizen would have to pay the fine for not having approved insurance, but other than this fact, wouldn't this American's contract with the Swiss company be enforcable?

9:08 AM, December 05, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Anon, you can insult our health care plans all you want, but how dare you insult television, something I really care about.

9:29 AM, December 05, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1 doesn't get competition. It takes three fuzzy channels on a bulky black and white TV that only one family on the block can afford, and turns it into hundreds of channels, creating not just a golden age of television, as most critics admit, but also a golden age of getting whatever specific show or video or even game from around the world you want, whenever you want, on a screen that you can have anywhere, including in your pocket, at a lower price than ever before.

Think about that next time you're getting an MRI, which might not even exist, or at least be affordable, if government had taken over health care in the 70s.

9:35 AM, December 05, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Larry--I don't know how the law treats overseas insurance, or even how it would stop it if it did. It's probably too much of a hassle for most people, but if the government does enough at stifling competition, the hassle factor might be work it. (And with cyber-traveling, it wouldn't seem that hard to at least buy outside insurance, but then you've got to work with doctors here and money over there.)

We know that people do go shopping for health care anywhere if the price is right. If Canada can ignore American patents and pay less for drugs, Americans will go there to buy the cheaper stuff (though it's an easy, quick trip across the border so not too hard. The same applies to less-taxed cigarettes, etc.--of course, people escape from New York to get cheaper stuff in New Jersey and the authorities follow their cars and try to take their numbers.) And if better treatment, including high-end surgery and other techniques, are available in America, people who can afford it are willing to take a trip, leaving behind all those suckers in their egalitarian nation.

9:44 AM, December 05, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had money I'd invest in offshore boats that will offer the best health care available.

12:59 PM, December 05, 2013  

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