Be wary of "mandatory"

Thank you for publishing the Reason article by Ronald Bailey promoting mandatory private health insurance instead of government provided universal health care [January 20 cover story: "A call for health care intervention from an unlikely source: Charlottesville's top libertarian"].

Bailey makes some very interesting points, and as a libertarian myself, it's refreshing to see someone approach the health care debate from the perspective of keeping costs low and innovation high, while still addressing why there are uninsured.

I agree with a lot of his points, but I just don't like the idea of it being mandatory. My concern is that the law would never stay "pure."

By this I mean it might start out as mandatory only that you have insurance. This could be good, because it leaves the consumer free to choose a very high deductible plan with minimal coverage.

Give politicians an inch, and they take a mile. Eventually, special interest groups will increase what's mandatory for the plans to cover.

The result will be everyone's premiums going up, even those who choose the minimal coverage plans. They will end up being forced to buy insurance that covers them for more than they want.

Any plan that tries to force one solution on everyone, like universal coverage, will undoubtedly fail. We need to encourage solutions that recognize that not everyone's health care needs are the same, and Bailey's proposal is at least a good step in that direction. But anything mandatory will become mangled by political interests.

Regardless, I hope the debate on this topic continues to get more diverse and we hear more solutions like Bailey's instead of the same story from the major parties.

Arin Sime
Crozet
arin@jalibertarians.org

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