Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tyler Cowen on Obamacare

How to write about legislation that is not really there? The Democrats' health reform bills will not have a definite form until after they are passed in both houses and go through reconciliation. But one has to try.

How an Insurance Mandate Could Leave Many Worse Off

AMERICANS seem to like the idea of broadening health insurance coverage, but they may not want to be forced to buy it. With health care costs high and rising, such government mandates would make many people worse off.

The proposals now before Congress would require just about everyone to buy health insurance or to get it through their employers — which would generally result in lower wages. In other words, millions of people would be compelled to spend lots of money on something they previously did not want, at least not at prevailing prices.

Estimates of this burden vary, but for a family of four it could range up to $14,000 a year over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Right now, many Americans take the gamble of going without insurance, just as many of us take our chances with how much we drive or how little we exercise.

The paradox is this: Reform advocates start with anecdotes about the underprivileged who are uninsured, then turn around and propose something that would hurt at least some members of that group.
The Times does not see fit to link to Prof. Cowen's blog, Marginal Revolution.

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