What Should a Health Plan Cover?

Anna Wilde Mathews wondered about that in her piece in The Wall Street Journal.  First, a couple of asides.  Notice the tacit acknowledgment that we have no health insurance plans available.  That industry was eliminated in toto by Obamacare, which replaced the industry with a Federally mandated, publicly/privately funded health coverage welfare program.  Next, notice the tacit assumption in the piece’s subhead: that the law should mandate business decisions.

To the piece itself:

The 2010 health law created a new set of federal requirements for plans sold to individuals and small businesses, including a list of 10 benefits, among them prescription drugs, mental-health services and laboratory tests. It also mandated that plans cover preventive services such as vaccinations at no cost to enrollees.

Along with women’s contraceptives (but not men’s…) at no cost to enrollees or the businesses providing the plans.

Trimming certain benefit categories from the required list could sharply raise the cost of those benefits for consumers who opt to have them.

That’s Mathews’ claim, anyway.  What she’s chosen to ignore is that a competitive, free market would sharply reduce the cost of most of those “benefits.”  What she’s also chosen to ignore is that eliminating the mandatory nature of the coverages would sharply lower the cost to millions of others who don’t need those “benefits,” but who must pay for them anyway—even if they’re included in a plan at “no cost to enrollees,” a fiction cynically foisted onto us by the Obama administration.  Enrollees certainly are paying for them; the added cost is simply hidden in a higher overall price.  And the rest of us are paying for them, too, in premiums similarly elevated to pay for that required coverage and/or in the taxes we must pay to pay for the subsidy.

It’s certainly true that other, rarer or more expensive to treat problems would have higher prices, but there’s never been a case made for why Government should pay for these ahead of family, friends, charity, church, local community—the usual suspects.

Plans with skinnier coverage can carry lower premiums, actuaries say. But as with everything in health care, that comes with a trade-off.

NSS.  But those trade-off decisions belong to the individual, not to Government.

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