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The price we pay for health care

Obamacare was a lousy law that never should have been passed. Doctors hated it, users hated it, hospitals hated it. Not many tears will be shed when it is replaced. Unless, of course the law that replaces it is just as bad as Obamacare.

Obamacare came out of the Democrat legislative meat grinder with a full admission on the part of most Democrats that they hadn’t read it but would pass it anyway.

Which was probably the main reason it was a not-too-good bit of legislation. One thing the Dems made sure of was that their constituents would be protected at public expense.

Now that the Republicans are in charge, there’s a chance for a better law, but not much of one. The GOP will protect its constituents, too, and the law as it is emerging, is no less mystifying than Obamacare was.

Conservatives now are chiming in with an idea that could make sense, even though it has been rejected twice before: Why not let the so-called free market provide the coverage that Obamacare was supposed to provide but didn’t?

Here are some facts we know:

  1. The state and federal governments are committed to providing some sort of basic health-care coverage for the poor. We know this because it has been going on for decades. At first, the states paid most of the tab for this, then the federal government began to pay more.

  2. The health insurance industry has participated in this provision of coverage, largely through providing supplemental coverage plans to those who wanted them and could afford them.

However, primary coverage has been left to the states and the feds mostly because insurers have been prohibited by law from selling health insurance policies across state lines. This has been primarily to protect the state and federal health insurance monopolies from having to be efficient. These prohibitions have no other use.

There is no other reason why large health insurance companies couldn’t sell policies across state lines. Practically all other insurance can be sold across state lines, engendering competition and resulting in cost savings and better service.

If the states and Congress felt they had to pay in to provide improved coverage, they could do it easily by providing subsidies to the poor. That subsidy could be through a tax credit or an outright grant to those for whom a tax credit wouldn’t work.

The insurers would have to be regulated, of course, just as they are in any insurance market. That is something the Congress could try, but might not get past the Democrats.

The only other practical option is to turn the country’s medical insurance over to Medicare, which we know works, and tax everyone who might use it to pay for it.

Private insurers could participate in that scheme, too, provided they could sell across state lines. As it is working right now, however, we are seeing little improvement over what is being replaced.

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