Choice and Security: Professor John Cochrane's advice to President Obama
Last week, at a White House forum on reforming health care, President Obama issued a challenge to advocates of less government control of the medical marketplace.
"If there is a way of getting this done [i.e., reforming health care] where we're driving down costs and people are getting health insurance at an affordable rate and have choice of doctor, have flexibility in terms of their plans, and we could do that entirely through the market, I'd be happy to do it that way."
More to the point, Obama added that he'd be just as happy to pursue an approach that involved more government control as well, and that seems to be the tack he's taking...
Congressional Republicans have criticized Obama's approach, and they've been particularly hostile to the idea of a new public insurance plan. They argue that Obama's reforms will eventually lead to a nationalized health care system. But as of yet they've failed to offer an alternative that meets Obama's criteria for a successful health care reform.
Enter John Cochrane, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Professor Cochrane has long advocated a proposal he calls "health-status insurance," an approach that could guarantee long-term health security while also freeing medical insurers to compete for customers. To most health care reformers, this sounds like a contradiction in terms.
Cochrane's paper is, "Health-Status Insurance: How Markets Can Provide Health Security."