January 12, 2007 8:40AM

Health Plan Hubris

Jacob Hacker writes:

[E]very legal resident of the United States who lacks access to Medicare or good workplace coverage would be able to buy into the “Health Care for America Plan,” a new public insurance pool modeled after Medicare. This new program would team up with Medicare to bargain for lower prices and upgrade the quality of care so that every enrollee would have access to either an affordable Medicare‐​like plan with free choice of providers or to a selection of comprehensive private plans.

It seems to me that if a plan “bargains for lower prices,” then many providers would prefer not to participate. In that case, “free choice of providers” would require forcing doctors to join.

I was pointed to this plan by Matthew Yglesias, who praised it. I got to Yglesias via Tyler Cowen, who is more skeptical.

I am very pessimistic about the outlook for health care policy. It seems to me that wonks are engaged in a bidding war for politicians, in which the guy with the most hubris (Great health care for all! At half the cost!) wins. 

I think that the best that libertarians can hope for is to see some of these ideas tried in state laboratories and have their outcomes measured against their promises. My fear is that we will get the former but without the latter.