In a recent post on how RomneyCare is increasing health insurance costs in Massachusetts (by encouraging healthy residents to purchase coverage only when they need medical care) and how ObamaCare will do the same, I linked to a Boston Globe article where an insurance-company spokeswoman made this odd claim:
We believe…the gaming in the system…is adding as much as $300 million dollars to the health care system in Massachusetts.
It’s hard to know what she meant. Taken literally, this claim is obviously untrue. The gamers aren't adding revenue to "the system" -- they're withholding revenue. Nor are they adding costs, in the sense of additional medical spending. If anything, overall spending falls because the gamers are less often insured, and therefore consume less medical care.
She might have meant that the premiums the gamers aren’t paying (or the difference between what they pay and the medical care they receive) amounts to $300 million, and that the gamers are imposing that cost on non-gamers in the form of higher premiums. But that doesn't hold water, either. The gamers have zero power to impose costs on non-gamers; only the government has that power. All the gamers are doing is responding rationally to the incentives RomneyCare creates and avoiding --- lawfully, I might add --- a $300 million tax.
So if that was her meaning, this spokeswoman should have said:
RomneyCare is imposing a $300 million tax on insured Massachusetts residents by encouraging other residents to game the system.
Instead, she blamed consumers and argued for laws that make it harder for consumers to avoid RomneyCare's private-insurer bailout individual mandate.
So now we've got President Obama, who signed a law requiring health insurers to pay for more stuff, blaming insurers for rising premiums. We've got pro-RomneyCare politicians doing the same in Massachusetts. And we've got health insurers, who support laws forcing consumers to buy their products, blaming consumers for the cost of those laws.
Remember how RomneyCare and ObamaCare were supposed to promote responsibility?