April 23, 2007 11:27AM

It’s Not the Uninsured, Stupid

That’s the title of an oped I wrote for today, the opening day of Cover the Uninsured Week.

In that oped, I point to academic research that casts doubt on whether policymakers should be focusing specifically on expanding health insurance coverage per se. That research raises some difficult issues for the mandate‐​and‐​spend crowd that wants government to guarantee “universal coverage.”

I also focus on the main reason why too many people lack health insurance and conclude:

There’s a lesson here for those who want to cover the uninsured: focus on the incentives facing the 250 million Americans who have health insurance, not on the estimated 45 million who don’t. If the federal government stopped encouraging people with health insurance to be less careful consumers, then coverage would be more affordable, the number of people without coverage would shrink, and the quality of care would improve.

My colleague Arnold Kling thinks that, even though I’m right, I’m painting a big bullseye on myself. Mmeh.