Friday, February 03, 2012

Don’t Depend Totally on Government 

The temptation of politicians to appeal to the disaffected is an important limitation on their ability to implement reform. 

Massachusetts is currently providing a vivid example.  Some time ago, in the name of health care cost reduction, a law was enacted requiring health insurance companies to offer so-called “tiered” policies that, in return for lower premiums, provided for higher deductibles if subscribers used high-cost, prestigious hospitals like the Massachusetts General. 

People signed up.  But of course some of them who didn’t think they’d get sick did get sick, and then wanted to use the big name provider after all.   

They could but found it unpleasant, if not impossible, to pay the higher deductible (like $1500 rather than $100). 

Their plight came to the attention of legislators who, as reported in the February 1 issue of the Boston Globe, have drafted legislation providing for “exceptions.”   

The Globe, in its editorial on the subject, pointed out that since the scope of the problem was not yet known, “….the Legislature should hold off, lest it undermine its own goal of making health care more affordable.” 

Whether or not it will hold off remains to be seen but for me, the lesson to be learned is this:  if you are serious about reform, don’t depend totally on government.

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