Unforeseen Secondary Effects

Hawaii has terminated its program for universal child health coverage, the only one of its kind in the nation:

HONOLULU – Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

While that may be an unexpected turn of events for the program’s proponents, it’s exactly what opponents of such plans have predicted all along. Without measures to control costs any imaginable system of universal coverage is bound to lose political support. But if there were effective measures to control costs the program wouldn’t be necessary in the first place.

Federalizing the program would not be an improvement. If the citizens of Hawaii, a state with a median income among the nation’s highest, won’t pay for universal child health coverage, why should the citizens of West Virginia, a state with a median income among the nation’s lowest, pay for Hawaiian insurance?

Health care isn’t too expensive because people lack insurance. People lack insurance because health care is too expensive and any plan that doesn’t recognize that is bound to fail.

There are only three ways to bring the costs of health care down in a fashion that’s consistent with good public health: a voluntary pay cut on the part of health care providers, fiat pricing, or reforms in the way that health care is delivered that have the effect of greatly increasing the supply of health care. I support the last of the three as the most effective, humane, and practicable.

6 comments… add one
  • You know…I dont really think most Republicans have a problem with the various S-Chip programs as long as they actually directed towards people who really couldn’t afford to get insurance for their entire family. The attempt to universilize it (or make it a middle class subsidy) promises to be a crippling financial burden. Especially when you consider that only a fraction of the families that qualify for the S-Chip programs actually enroll in them, if you really wanted to spend more money, why not launch a PR campaign to encourage enrollment?

    Sure its not a “solution” but it would sure be an improvement.

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