Ramesh Ponnuru Joins The Health Care Debate

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 9, 2009

Discussions over health care policy will benefit from the participation of more people like Ramesh Ponnuru. The first paragraph in this editorial is just marvelous:

AMERICA’S dysfunctional health care financing system needs to be reformed. But the goal should not be universal coverage. Reform should simply aim to make health insurance more affordable and portable.

That would qualify nicely as a Passage of the Day, because it helps point the way to some very important truths that need to be kept in mind while considering health care reform. As Ponnuru writes, uninsured people don’t shift costs all that much, so cost-shifting doesn’t really count as much of a reason for universal coverage and affordable, portable health insurance is a more cost-effective way to ensure that the costs of others are not increased, while at the same time, not generating new costs that come up as a consequence of universal coverage. We really shouldn’t want to engage in the nationalization, or quasi-nationalization of insurance agencies, which various universal coverage plans would force us to do. And we have more direct ways of helping out people with pre-existing conditions than engaging in efforts to design and implement universal coverage schemes.

Portability of health coverage can easily be achieved through various methods, as Ponnuru details. Sure, we will get people claiming that the anti-universal coverage crowd–of which I am a proud member–will suffer at the polls, but (and I wish I had pointed this out myself much earlier), Ponnuru reminds us that universal coverage is not as popular at the ballot box as many people think it is.

So why not argue that universal coverage–far from being a health care reform cure-all–is actually a bad idea with significantly less electoral appeal than its proponents claim it has? And why not argue for a simpler and more effective way of reforming health care? Ramesh Ponnuru helped get the ball rolling on this issue. Hopefully, more people will follow his example.

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