Clinton's plan would force insurers to offer coverage at the same rates to everyone: smokers would pay no more than non-smokers; drug addicts and alcoholics would receive the same rates as the abstemious; obese people would pay the same as the physically fit -- even though all of these behaviors affect health and can be avoided. The consequence would be higher rates for those who choose to behave responsibly.
Moreover, to pay for the estimated $110 billion cost of the new Hillary Care, Clinton would raise taxes. First, she'd wipe out most of the Bush tax cuts, and then she'd tax employer-provided health care plans themselves for those she deems "rich."
Clinton likened her plan of forcing all individuals to purchase health insurance (and requiring the government to pay for those who ostensibly can't afford it) to some states' requirement that drivers maintain insurance in case they injure someone in an accident. But the comparison couldn't be farther off the mark. Car and property insurance don't cover routine maintenance, and premiums are tied to actual risk. You don't submit claims to your car insurer for tune-ups or brake repairs or to your home insurer for painting your house or putting on a new roof. And your premiums depend on whether you are a good driver and how much your house is worth.
But most people expect their health insurance to pay at least a portion of the cost of visits to the doctor for routine care when they get the flu or need vaccinations for the kids, and they don't want to pay more if they choose unhealthy lifestyles.
We do need a new system -- one that rewards individual efforts to stay healthy and provides incentives to get regular, prophylactic care. But Hillary's plan doesn't come close to doing that and will only result in higher taxes and rationed health care.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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