Thursday, July 30, 2009

Avoiding the traps in health care reform

Mary Katherine Ham highlights a video of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) making the case against Obamacare. Ryan's does a great job, remaining on point and offering supporting facts, and leaves his opponents looking clueless. The video is definitely worth a watch.

That said, I have two problems with Ryan's statements at about the 1:15 mark. First, he embraces the goal of getting everyone insured. Studies show that many Americans are uninsured simply because they choose not to be. Millions can afford health insurance and elect not to purchase it. Millions more qualify for existing programs and choose not to participate. Whatever the reasons, it's not the government's job to make sure everyone has health insurance, and people shouldn't be forced into programs they don't want or feel they don't need.

Second, Ryan suggests that pre-existing conditions should be covered by the new insurance. This is "insurance after the fact," which means it's not insurance at all, but rather a form of wealth redistribution. If I wait until my house burns down to buy fire "insurance," I shouldn't expect my neighbors, who have been paying premiums all along, to compensate me for my loss on the grounds that it was a "pre-existing condition." Any reasonable person who thinks this through will realize that it's unfair and unworkable and that health insurance premised on this notion is equally unfair and unworkable.

Unfortunately, we're being encouraged not to think things through and to just accept the "free" candy we're being offered, and even those who oppose the move toward unsustainable socialism can fall into the trap.

[h/t Mark Hemmingway]

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