Health Care Reform And Employer Mandates: The Strange Case Of Wal-Mart

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 2, 2009

walmartNow that Wal-Mart has come out in favor of employer mandates, various liberal bloggers are acting as thought the big-box retailer’s decision is akin to the lion laying down with the lamb. They tell us that Wal-Mart’s sudden endorsement of employer mandates is a game-changer that augurs a significant change not just in policy, but in how we think about the provision of health care in the United States.

As it turns out, however, the reasoning behind Wal-Mart’s sudden decision to endorse employer mandates is far more prosaic: Wal-Mart is endorsing employer mandates because by doing so, it will drive down its own costs for the provision of health insurance, while at the same time, driving up costs for competitors like Target.

Megan McArdle’s commentary on this matter is very much worth reading. As is the following passage:

When you find strange bedfellows in politics, don’t look for a surprising outbreak of spontaneous virtue: looking for the hidden conspiracy.

Wal-Mart’s decision may be a game-changer, all right. But if there is any justice, it will cause us to see “universal health insurance” for what it is; just another way to subsidize big corporations. This isn’t about doing the right thing when it comes to providing for the health insurance needs of the American people. Rather, it is just about rent-seeking.

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