Health care

Edwards08, The Economy

I haven’t been doing much John Edwards blogging since he announced his candidacy, but back in February I had bookmarked two articles about Edwards’ health care plan which I thought worth sharing.

First, Paul Krugman lauds the use of ‘Health Markets’: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf”:

Why is this such a good idea? …[M]arketing and underwriting — … screening out high-risk clients — are responsible for two-thirds of insurance companies’ overhead. With insurers selling to government-run Health Markets, not directly to individuals, most of these expenses should go away, making insurance considerably cheaper.

Better still, Health Markets,” …, …modeled after Medicare” … offer a crucial degree of competition. The public insurance plan would almost certainly be cheaper … — after all, Medicare has very low overhead. Private insurers would either have to match the public plan’s low premiums, or lose the competition. …

So this is a smart, serious proposal. It addresses both … the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system. And every candidate should be pressed to come up with something comparable.

Second, via Kevin Drum, John Cohn in The New Republic argues that this would essentially bring single-payer health care in through the back door.

if the public program ends up winning in the long run — by attracting most or all of the subscribers — then eventually you’d have what is basically a single-payer system, in which the government provides insurance directly to most people through something like Medicare.

This is clever because such back-door approaches have long been used by neocons to push through unpopular policies. But unlike neocon strategies, which often aim to bankrupt those programs they seek to eliminate, Edwards plan works by proving that government-run health care is more cost effective. Moreover, such a health care plan is practically mainstream these days, but by implementing it in such an incremental fashion Edwards plan seems more likely to overcome the political hurdles facing any reform plan.

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