George Will

HSAs, a partially redeeming feature of the 2003 legislation that established the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, have already found a constituency of more than 3 million people, about of a third of whom were previously uninsured. And Wal-Mart and GM are among the large employers who this year will begin facilitating employee participation in HSAs, most of which are comprehensive, covering the costs of visits to doctors or emergency rooms, prescription drugs, lab tests and hospitalization.

There is evidence that HSAs reduce health care costs by making patients more judicious in their use of physician visits, and inpatient and lab services. In a study of one HSA plan, 50 percent of the participants had some funds left over at the end of the year to roll over into the next year's account.

Regarding the war, although the president asked that our disagreements be conducted at a lower decibel level, he was, if anything, even more Manichean than usual. There are, he intimated, just two points of view. One is held by those who are as optimistic as he is about the march of freedom and democracy. And then there are those who favor ``retreat'' and ``isolationism,'' words as negatively charged as any in foreign policy discourse.

The president's headline-grabbing assertion that America is ``addicted'' to oil is wonderfully useless. If it means only -- and what else can it mean? -- that for the foreseeable future we will urgently need a lot of oil, it is banal. The amusingly discordant word ``addicted'' couched censoriousness -- the president as national scold: our consumption of oil is somehow irresponsible -- in the vocabulary of addiction, which is the therapeutic language of Oprah Nation, where no one is responsible for anything bad because bad behavior is medicalized.

Not to worry. The president says that by 2025 America will ``replace'' -- a certain ambiguity there -- ``more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East.'' Replace with what? Other oil? Never mind. Such recurring goals, located safely over the horizon, resemble Soviet agricultural quotas, except that no one will be shot when they are not met.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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