Under Obamacare, writes Emily Chasan in The Wall Street Journal, employers will be required by 2018 to pay a tax of 40% on health care plans that President Barack Obama and his minion, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, decide for themselves are somehow “excessively rich” in the benefits they pay out.
The excuse these two and other Progressives make for this is that these Cadillac plans, with their low deductibles and “generous” medical coverage, will encourage overuse of our health-care system. Sure. Everyone needs to be covered. But only to a government-approved degree. And never mind that those low deductibles make the policy purchasers ineligible for Health Savings Accounts—Progressives don’t want Americans to have those, anyway.
But these folks also ignore—or don’t understand—another aspect of their interference. Competition in a free market for health insurance, including an ability for insurers to charge risk-based premiums, and for health services would address that “overuse” concern much more efficiently than a 2000 page law with its tens of thousands of pages of HHS rules ever could. Such an environment would directly impact the costs born both by suppliers and their customers/patients.
The competition would drive down the prices charged, and risk-based premiums within that environment would enable insurers to bill for the coverage offered in accordance with the actual likelihood of payout. Yes, some high-risk coverages would get more expensive, but the vast majority of coverages, by not having to be priced so as to subsidize those high risks, would get a lot cheaper.
Also, customers and patients would gravitate to the combination of policy coverage and medical service usage that actually interested them, instead of having to buy a government-approved policy that included things only a bureaucrat could love. An equilibrium would develop that had customers and patients getting the policies and services they wanted at prices that suited them with insurers and providers offering those services and policies at prices that would let them stay in business.
There’s no need of a tax to manage demand and supply. Americans are fully capable of doing that for themselves in a free, competitive market.