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November 15, 2013 1:34 PM The Less Insurance the Better

By Ed Kilgore

One useful thing about the latest Obamacare furor is that it’s helping bring conservative “health reform” ideas into better focus. Every time a conservative thinker or gabber rages about the injustice of making people buy into insurance plans providing more coverage than they want (the real heart of the latest hysteria over individual health insurance policies), it becomes more obvious than ever that these folk are raging against the whole idea of insurance itself.

Jonathan Chait notes the logic today:

Karl Rove argues in his Wall Street Journal column that Obamacare forces people to pay for “expensive and often unnecessary provisions.” And what provisions are these? Where is the medical equivalent of Bridge to Nowhere or scientific research on animals that Republicans love to mock? The problem turns out to be a requirement that “every policy offer a wide range of benefits including mental health and addiction treatment, and maternity care (even for single men or women past childbearing age), and cover 100% of the cost of an array of preventive services.”
This is a morally bizarre conception of what health insurance means. Most of us don’t need mental-health or addiction treatment. Some of us do. Some of us who don’t currently need mental-health treatment might potentially need it one day. You could have a system in which only people who need mental-health treatment pay for mental-health insurance, but then it wouldn’t be insurance anymore. It would be a system in which you pay for a doctor out of pocket.

That’s pretty been the idea all along, certainly since the Right became enamored of the Health Savings Accounts/barebones catastrophic policy combo platter as the right-sized health coverage for everybody. Don’t go to see the doctor unless you really have to, and if you do, Pay Doctor from your own resources, and only rely on insurance when they’ve run out.

At some point Americans are going to figure out that the biggest risk to their existing health insurance isn’t Obamacare but the variety of conservative alternative approaches that have in common the elimination of employer-sponsored health plans that share Obamacare’s socialistic preoccupation with spreading risks and cross-subsidizing the sick and poor instead of letting people “take responsibility for their own health,” which basically means not relying on insurance at all.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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