Educating Robert Samuelson: "Affordable" Insurance is in Reference to the Person Buying It

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Thursday, 24 October 2013 05:22

Robert Samuelson thinks that he has news for Obamacare supporters. He tells readers:

"Obamacare supposedly makes insurance more affordable. Not really. Health costs are simply shifted. To subsidize insurance for some means raising taxes for others, cutting other programs or accepting larger deficits. Only reducing costs or increasing efficiency can make health care more affordable."

Apparently Samuelson didn't realize that "affordable" is in reference to the person buying the insurance. The idea of Obamacare is to make insurance more affordable for the people who need it most. That would be people with pre-existing conditions who could not otherwise buy insurance in the individual market or would have to pay an exorbitant price for it if they did.

By requiring that insurers charge everyone in an age group the same rate regardless of their health, the law will make insurance far more affordable for people with serious health conditions. This obviously does raise the cost for people who are healthy, and for taxpayers insofar as there are subsidies. Most Obamacare supporters knew this.

Samuelson is right that the law does relatively little to control costs. Unfortunately public debate on health care is dominated by protectionists who do their best to shield doctors, drug companies, and other providers from international and domestic competition. This is the reason that people in the United States pay more than twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries for our health care. Unfortunately neither Samuelson nor anyone else at the Post seems very interested in opening up these markets.