Healthcare and Costs

Oct 28, 2009

The Wall Street Journal had a superb op-ed piece today on a new study by WellPoint on the impact of current healthcare proposals on insurance premiums. The study says that current proposals could dramatically increases premiums for everyone. Predictably, the reaction from the Hill and the White House was harsh and immediate, with proponents of the current bills analogizing WellPoint's research to that of the Tobacco Institute. It is the same "marginalization" (nice word) that was directed at AHIP and Karen Ignagni (a Democrat and former AFL-CIO staffer, by the way).

While folks are busy smashing WellPoint and AHIP, maybe they should stop for a minute and ask themselves "what if WellPoint and AHIP are right?" Or even "what if WellPoint and AHIP are only half right?" What would a dramatic and substantial increase in everyone's health insurance premiums do to the Democrats' electoral chances in 2010 and, more so, 2012? Let's just say it wouldn't be good. At the end of the day, you can't wish away financial facts. If people end-up paying a lot more, the voter reaction will be swift and strong.

The current "double down" theory of healthcare reform is flatly misguided. (That is where we fix the most expensive healthcare system in the world by making it a whole lot more expensive.) Cost is itself an access issue, and the folks in charge of this effort at the moment should go back and start over with a clear focus on cost reduction and insurance market reform. That would certainly something that the electorate would respond well to.

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