Bush’s health care proposal

January 24, 2007

I didn’t watch the State of the Union address last night, but I’ve heard about the President’s health care proposal. My take, briefly, is that it’s not a bad idea if you replace the tax deduction with a tax credit so that it provides a great benefit to lower-income families. I think Kevin Drum actually does a reasonably good job of describing the Democratic-Republican split on this type of proposal:

[Bush] wants to push the country toward "consumer directed
healthcare," a euphemism for gutting the current insurance system, in
which third parties pay for most medical costs, and replacing it with a
system in which consumers pay directly for healthcare and insurance
only kicks in if you suffer some kind of major disaster.

I think this is accurate with two quibbles: 1) Third parties don’t pay for healthcare; we do. The ’employer’ part of health care payments is part of the employer’s total cost of employing a person. If the employer didn’t have to pay this cost, the employer could pay you more to spend as you choose. The same goes for the ’employer’ part of Social Security taxes. 2) ‘Insurance’ by definition should not cover routine care, since it is meant to spread risk across large numbers of people. That doesn’t work if you cover routine care rather than only ‘major disasters.’

Otherwise, I think this really does describe the difference in opinion between liberals and conservatives. I, clearly, tend toward the conservative opinion, but I’m open to discussion.

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