Let insurance companies compete across U.S.

Right now, the U.S. does not have a national market for health insurance. It has 50 separate state markets. Erecting walls around each state means less competition and higher prices for consumers. There's not even one market for the Chicago area. If you live in South Holland or Calumet City, your insurance options could be completely different from your Indiana neighbors in Hammond or Merrillville. What sense does that make?

The easiest way to see how insurance competition benefits consumers is to look at auto insurance. That's a huge, nationwide market and companies compete intensively for a share of it. Some stress their low prices, others customer service, whatever gives them an edge in the marketplace. Geico and Progressive have been especially aggressive in touting cost savings. State Farm and Allstate certainly compete on price, but they stress service after an accident. That's why Allstate says “you're in good hands,” and State Farm says it will be there “like a good neighbor.” Other companies, like SafeAuto, focus on drivers who want only minimum coverage to meet state license requirements. In short, auto insurance companies compete vigorously to provide what different consumers want, and they tell them so in national advertisements. Life insurance companies do the same thing. There are even companies that specialize in comparing policies for customers. Competition drives down excess profits and means better, cheaper options for consumers.

Ever see an ad touting health insurance? They are rare because the markets are small and companies don't need to compete aggressively on price or service. Introducing such competition would be good for consumers, wouldn't require another Washington bureaucracy and could be done quickly.

via Let insurance companies compete across U.S. — chicagotribune.com. (All emphasis mine.)

Finally, Some Sensible Health Care Reform Ideas

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, posts The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare at the WSJ.

The 8 things he lists are:

  1. Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
  2. Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
  3. Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
  4. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
  5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
  6. Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
  7. Enact Medicare reform.
  8. Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Go read the whole thing; below, I have some notes of my own.

Point 1 (HSAs) is near and dear to me; I have an HSA and it’s great. I get to keep all the money I don’t spend; it’s mine all mine. That makes me very cost-conscious, and I could be even more cost-conscious if point 6 (cost transparency) was available.

Points 2 (federal tax law), 3 (state law), and 4 (mandated coverage) should be educational to anyone who thinks we already have a free market in health care. We don’t. These point out only a few of the kinds of federal and state regulation that reduce the effectiveness of markets.

Not sure how I feel about point 5 (tort reform). I’m definitely in favor of the reform that says “loser pays” but I’m betting that’s not what most of the tort reform crowd has in mind.

Point 7 (Medicare reform) is a little vague.

Point 8 (donations to those without insurance) makes for actual *charity*, with all the moral and emotional benefits that confers upon the charitable giver, and not merely confiscation by the government.

46 Million? No, more like 12 million (or less)

Speaking of Obama’s scare tactics, that 46 million is a very dubious statistic, the kind Mark Twain had in mind when he talked about lies and damned lies. Here’s a chart from a GOP Senator (based on U.S. Census data) that explains who those 46 million actually are.

So what we actually have is about 12 million American citizens of income less than $75K who have no access to insurance or government programs. That’s about 4% of the population. Many of those are young, healthy people who don’t particularly need insurance, and those at incomes of $40-$50K or above can probably afford to borrow and repay medical bills over time; half seems a reasonable estimate of the two combined. So we have 2% of the country that really has a need for this reform.

via Classical Values :: Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Health Care Crisis?.

What Is Poverty?

When every benefit is received as a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone gratitude.

In the welfare state, mere survival is not the achievement that it is, say, in the cities of Africa, and therefore it cannot confer the self-respect that is the precondition of self-improvement.

…a system of welfare that makes no moral judgments in allocating economic rewards promotes antisocial egotism.

via Theodore Dalrymple:
What is Poverty?