The Problem With Subsidized Health Insurance

I wasn’t going to blog about health care today but Ross Douthat wrote about one of my Affordable Care Act pet peeves, Obamacare’s Losers and Why They Matter. In the dogged pursuit of expanding access to health care, the Affordable Care Act supporters have to admit that the status quo has become more entrenched. The key to this problem is that subsidized health insurance is becoming even more entrenched and difficult to reform. When the federal government subsidizes health insurance in every market it looks like one massive shell game in which there will be one arbitrary group of winners and another arbitrary group of losers and common sense is no longer a valid argument.

If we want health inflation to stay low and health care costs to be less of an anchor on advancement, we should want more Americans making $50,000 or $60,000 or $70,000 to spend less upfront on health insurance, rather than using regulatory pressure to induce them to spend more. And seen in that light, the potential problem with Obamacare’s regulation-driven “rate shock” isn’t that it doesn’t let everyone keep their pre-existing plans. It’s that it cancels plans, and raises rates, for people who were doing their part to keep all of our costs low.