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Dr. Rudy’s Rx
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The Wall Street Journal reports that Rudy Giuliani is preparing to unveil a market-based health care plan:

He envisions a system where neither state regulations nor federal tax law push people into expensive plans rich in benefits. Rather, health insurance should be more like car insurance, he said, where people pay out of pocket for minor repairs and maintenance….

Many health policy experts say the individual market will only work well if Americans are forced to buy insurance, thus injecting into the system younger, healthier people who are now uninsured and balancing out sicker, more expensive patients. That was the approach taken by Massachusetts under former Gov. Mitt Romney, one of Mr. Giuliani's rivals for the party nomination. Democratic candidate John Edwards has called for a similar mandate for individuals buying insurance, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also in the running, is expected to as well.

But Mr. Giuliani rejects a government mandate that all individuals purchase coverage. To do that, he said, the government would have to subsidize the bill for those who can't afford coverage, which would drive up the overall cost. In Massachusetts, the state is subsidizing coverage for poor and low-income families. For example, a family of three earning as much as $51,510 a year could receive a subsidy.

More important, Mr. Giuliani says, is to give consumers more choice. He would supplant state regulations, which require that insurance companies offer benefits ranging from chiropractic care to fertility treatments. Instead, people across the country could buy insurance from any company in any state, meaning they could find cheaper, more basic plans than those now available in their particular state….

"What I would do is change the whole model that we have for health insurance in this country," Mr. Giuliani said. "The problem with our health insurance is it's government- and employer dominated. People don't make individual choices."

I'll be interested in seeing the plan once it gets fleshed out, but broadly speaking, I like the approach, and that's based on my personal experience. When I was a freelancer living in New York I just wanted to purchase a high-deductible catastrophic plan, figuring that what I really was worried about was being covered in case I incurred massive medical expenses in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of some unforseen illness or injury. But when I tried calling all of the insurers in my area, I quickly found out that as an individual living in New York state, I could not purchase such a plan–even if one were offered in another state. In our rapidly changing economy, with more and more people working for themselves out of home offices, the traditional employer-based healthcare model is becoming less and less relevant, and updating it with a government-based model is not the way to go.

Politically speaking, healthcare is an area where Giuliani has a huge oppourtunity to outflank Romney from the right as the campaign goes on. Dave Hogberg has done an excellent job laying out the flaws with Romney's universal healthcare plan in Massachusetts. I don't care how much Romney talks about it being a market-based solution, and I don't care that the Heritage Foundation was bullish on the plan, there's no way that you're going to convince me that having the government force private citizens to purchase healthcare is consistent with conservative principles.  

(Via Liz Mair, who has more.) 

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