I Guess It Depends What “All” Means…

Several blogs, including the one over at the New Republic have taken me to task for my last post pointing out that with the deadline looming for complying with the Massachusetts individual health insurance mandate, more than 100,000 people still haven’t purchased the required insurance. I suggested that this proves a mandate is unlikely to achieve universal coverage. But, the blogs say, no one ever claimed that the Massachusetts plan would insure everyone.

Except that is exactly what the plan’s supporters claimed. When the bill was signed, the media, state lawmakers, and health care reform advocates hailed it as achieving “universal coverage.” As Mitt Romney himself wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “all Massachusetts citizens will have health insurance.”

There’s no doubt that the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of people without health insurance in the state. But that is largely because of the plan’s enormously generous (and costly) subsidies. The mandate, with its infringement on individual liberty and invitation to greater government regulation, has had little positive impact.