The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on Hillarycare

By on 11.13.07 | 11:36PM

Hillarycare was probably a major reason the Democrats experienced historic losses in 1994. The Contract with America was important, but not necessarily more so than the recoil from an attempt to socialize 12% of the national economy.

Back in 1992, Americans weren't nearly as antsy about their health care as they are today. HMO's produced inconveniences but lowered premiums substantially. People who were covered by their employer were generally okay with their out of pocket costs and with what they were getting. Certainly that was the case with white collar types.

Today, I think the picture is different. Premiums, even HMO premiums, have gone up considerably. The co-pays are higher, the base prices are higher, many drugs cost more, etc. Employers are feeling the squeeze, too. GM's Rick Waggoner has complained that he often feels he's in the health care business rather than the automobile business.

What I'm suggesting is that the idea of off-loading health care costs onto the government is becoming a more attractive idea. I suspect a company like Ford or GM would almost certainly benefit from a government takeover of health care. At the same time, health care plans have become expensive enough for people covered by their employers to make them more willing to listen to talk of government sponsored care for all.

Private health insurance was once an attractive way for employers to compensate employees without exposing them to more tax liability. That win-win, for reasons of medical liability and other factors that increase cost, has become a source of growing alarm for both employers and employees. The interests of corporate welfare and individual welfare are coming together in a perfect storm. Democrats, generally interested in extending the New Deal and the Great Society, are eager to oblige.

The standard case against government health care has been that it will result in much higher taxes, that health care delivery will become less customer friendly, that services will become more scarce, and that the pace of innovation will drop off sharply. That case is still a strong one, but I'm not certain at all Americans and, perhaps more important, American corporations are nearly as resistant as they once were. I suspect that if a Democrat is elected, national health care will be in the bag.

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