Tag Archives: health care bill

No to Broccoli Mandate, Yes to Health Insurance Mandate?


I was looking over the latest Reason-Rupe poll and found something strange: 87 percent of people think a federal broccoli mandate would be unconstitutional, while 62 percent think a health insurance mandate would be unconstitutional. That’s a 25 percent difference even though the basic principle is exactly the same. These two mandates were compared during this week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on the health care bill.

Over at the Daily Caller, I go over some possible explanations for the different results and conclude:

Public opinion has precisely nothing to do with whether a policy is a good idea or not; anyone who thinks otherwise would do well to read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” But since I think that government should not have the power to mandate that people buy certain products — think of the lobbying and rent-seeking by companies that stand to benefit! — it is heartening that the majority of Americans think the same way as I do about broccoli. And, to a lesser extent, health insurance.

More importantly, we’ll soon find out how the Supreme Court polls on the broccoli mandate issue. Er, health insurance mandate. Same principle.

Read the whole thing here.

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6 Pages of Legislation, 1,000 Pages of Regulation

HHS is about to issue over 1,000 pages of new regulations stemming from last year’s health care bill. That’s not a huge surprise, considering the bill is about 2,000 pages long.

But these regulations all come from a 6-page section covering accountable care organizations, or ACOs.

According to Politico, John Gorman, who runs a health care consulting firm, “expects a 1,000-page rule to come out on Thursday, March 31—because he doesn’t think HHS will want to deal with releasing the regulations on April Fool’s Day.”

Four Ways to Spend Money on Health Care

As the House gets ready to pass the health care bill today, I’m reminded of one of the first lessons in economics I ever learned. Milton Friedman put it best:

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.

The biggest problem with health care today is that patients only pay 12 percent of costs out of pocket.  As far as each individual is concerned, it’s basically on sale for 88 percent off! No wonder we spend so much on health care.

Today’s bill consists almost entirely of spending other peoples’ money on other people. If it becomes law, that 12 percent figure will fall even further. This is no way to keep costs under control. However noble Congress’ intentions may be, its bill will not work as advertised. Human nature won’t allow it.

How Do These People Avoid Cognitive Dissonance?

Supporters of the health care bill spend a lot of time attacking health insurance companies.

The health care bill, by the way, would legally require people to give a lot of money to those same insurance companies. A lot of money. It would be the largest corporate gift Washington has ever given out — as much as $1.5 trillion over ten years by one estimate.

Health insurers’ loudest detractors are actually their best friends, and they don’t even seem to realize it. Apparently, regulatory capture is not always a conscious process.

Health Insurance and Campaign Contributions


Congressional Democrats are thinking of revoking the health insurance industry’s antitrust exemption; some insurers have spent as much as $20,000,000 opposing the current legislation.

Of course, insurers also gave $20,175,303 to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, roughly triple what McCain netted.

On one hand, this might look like the dog biting the hand that feeds. But really, it isn’t.

If the health care legislation passes, there is a good chance that every American would be required to purchase health insurance.

Suppose that happens. $40 million and change plus some antitrust troubles is a really small price to pay for a legal guarantee of vastly increased business, forever, plus looking like you didn’t want the favor.

As my friend Jeremy Lott is so quick to remind, it’s a wonder that politicians can be bought off so cheaply, given what they could charge for their services.

It is just as surprising that insurers would spend $20 million opposing legislation that would yield many times that in profit. As economist Bruce Yandle notes, “industry support of regulation is not rare at all; indeed, it is the norm. And in the United States it is as American as apple pie.”