Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obit: CA Universal Care

The Golden State legislature pulled the plug yesterday on the Governator's health care plan. Interestingly, two causes of death were officially cited: "too [deleted] expensive" and "not generous enough." Next of kin were unavailable for comment.
Even the uberliberal California legislature balked at the anticipated costs (which, as we've seen, always understate the true figures), while the "individual mandate" turned out to be the deal killer. That provision required every citizen (well, we'll quibble with that later) to buy and maintain health coverage. Folks on the lower end of the economic scale were to receive subsidies to offset the cost.
While that may seem laudable in theory, the reality is that the plan itself would have made health coverage so expensive that the subsidies would become unworkable. And the legislators also figured out something we've already known: that guaranteed issue and community rating drive costs up, not down, increasing the number of uninsured, who would then face stiff penalties, ad nauseum (literally: that's nauseating).
But like most painful lessons, we can learn a lot from failure. Although the plan was modeled after the Massachusetts program, it seemed to go even farther, and thus cost more. And as we've noted here in the past, health insurance costs are largely a function of health care costs, which this plan (like its Bay State cousin) failed to address.
Requiescat In Pace.
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