Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Conservatives Criticize Kennedy Health Care Plan For Being A Health Care Plan

Posted by Eric on June 8, 2009

I recently stumbled on Keith Hennessey’s blog. He’s a conservative policy wonk and was an economic policy coordinator in the Bush White House. Today he wrote up a summary of Ted Kennedy’s health care bill, which is a pretty straight forward overview and commentary from the Republican side of things. His post gives me the opportunity to address this point, which we are sure to hear more about soon:

Health insurance plans could not charge higher premiums for risky behaviors:  “Such rate shall not vary by health status-related factors, … or any other factor not described in paragraph (1).”  Smokers, drinkers, drug users, and those in terrible physical shape would all have their premiums subsidized by the healthy.

In the coming months conservatives are sure to raise hell over healthy people subsidizing sick people’s health care. But this isn’t some malevolent consequence of a universal health insurance system — this is a consequence of health insurance! That’s what a risk pool is — the healthy pay into the pool, subsidizing the sick, with the knowledge that eventually when they need care, it too will be subsidized by those who are healthy. That’s how Hennessey’s health care worked when it was bankrolled by the government while he worked in the White House. That’s how his care works now that he is (presumably) insured on the private market. When Hennessey retires, that’s how his Medicare will work too.

Anyway, if you are interested you can download the draft of Kennedy’s legislation here.


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