How much worse could ObamaCare be?

The WSJ warns that public healthcare will lead to higher costs and worse care. But so will private healthcare


Andrew Leonard
October 15, 2009 12:02AM (UTC)

In response to Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee vote approving a version of healthcare reform, the Wall Street Journal has an editorial today warning that the passage of "ObamaCare" will lead to a Massachusetts healthcare scenario in which costs will rise and ultimately, the government will be forced to ration care.

Elsewhere in the same issue of the Journal, columnist Anna Wilde Matthews reports that, with or without healthcare reform, "many employees are learning they will have to dig even deeper into their pockets for health coverage" in 2010.

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Such price increases have become a fact of life during open-enrollment season, when workers sign up for their health plans. But the jump is expected to be steeper in 2010 than this year, as employers struggle with the impact of the recession and continually rising insurance costs. Employees will pay $4,023 on average in premiums and out-of-pocket charges next year, up 10 percent from 2009, according to a projection from Hewitt Associates, a benefits-consulting firm. In dollar terms, it's the biggest boost since the firm started keeping track of the data a decade ago.

For workers, that will mean larger payroll deductions, as well as spending more on co-payments and other fees tied to care. Companies also are expected to prod more employees into cheaper coverage by getting them to sign up for high-deductible health plans. And many employers are trying to rein in the expense of covering workers' families, sometimes by making insurance for kids and spouses pricier.

So let's see: Government-run healthcare, according to the WSJ, will lead to shoddier healthcare. But private-sector healthcare, according to the WSJ, will lead either to higher costs, or less coverage. Not much to choose from, there, huh? But in one of those two scenarios, there are built-in incentives to generate profits by charging as much as the market will bear, and to avoid offering care to anyone who, you know, might actually be sick. I think I prefer the Massachusetts model.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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