Curing what Ails Idaho Health Insurance:
More Freedom, Less Design
by Rep. Ronald Nate – District 34
Yesterday I attended a presentation by the Department of Health and Welfare and the Department of Insurance. The directors of these departments described the “Dual Waivers” idea of reforming Idaho’s health insurance options. They began by pointing to the problems of Idaho’s health insurance: high costs of insurance, and not everyone is covered. They claim their dual waivers proposal will reduce costs, cover more people, stabilize the insurance market, and improve health coverage. Sound familiar? If so, it’s because it is exactly what Pres. Obama promised a few years ago with the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA replaced somewhat free markets and freedom with socialized medicine and it has failed miserably. Idaho policymakers were also duped into a broken-from-the-get-go system. They created the Idaho health insurance exchange to lower costs and provide more coverage options. Since then, we’ve only seen costs (both deductibles and premiums) soar, insurance providers leave the Idaho market, and fewer options for Idahoans. Every government health insurance program could be summed up as, “promises unrealized.”
The dual waivers proposal is complicated and highly “engineered” to get to the promised results. But, here are the main problems with the proposal: it would put more Idahoans on Medicaid (many who already have private coverage), it derives its outcomes by having healthy people pay even more to cover unhealthy people, and there is zero guarantee for health insurance companies to lower their rates (and our costs) when and if any savings are realized. The plan is a complicated mess built on the hope there will be savings and rates will drop.
A famous economist once said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” It is so true with health insurance policy. Idaho government is full of policy engineers who imagine they can design great things. They create a program, make promises, realize failures, propose a new program, and repeat the cycle. No policy maker or administrator has all the information nor understanding of complex economic systems involving millions of people to be able to make all the right decisions for everyone involved. There are no bureaucratic gods in Idaho. The good news is, freedom doesn’t require geniuses. Let’s try it.
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