It seems apparent that National Review’s John Derbyshire needed a change of shorts after reviewing his updated health insurance bill.
My health insurer has just notified me, in a brief form letter, that my monthly premiums are to rise from $472.33 to $857.00 on January 1st. That’s an increase of 81 percent. ***E*I*G*H*T*Y*-*O*N*E* *P*E*R*C*E*N*T*** Can they do that? I called them. They sound pretty confident they can. Ye gods!
As one might imagine, the left side of the political spectrum has taken a share of amusement from his plight:
You see, John, there is this thing called the “market.” People who want to buy health insurance–that’s you, John–look for people who want to sell health insurance, and when you find one and agree on a price you make a “transaction.” This is a voluntary exchange. Both sides to do it. The health insurer has just told a customer that they want to charge you not $5,668 for next year but rather $10,284. If the customer doesn’t like that price, the customer should look for another health insurer.
Or as one cheeky commentator put it, “The invisible hand is putting on a rubber glove.”
Obsidian Wings understands the quandry:
When Derbyshire asks “Can they do that?”, what sort of restrictions does he think might make the answer “no, they can’t”? Is he hoping for government intervention? The hand of God? Is he under the misapprehension that something prevents price increases that are unduly sudden or onerous?
Seriously: John Derbyshire writes for one of the most respected conservative magazines out there. He advocates free markets. Was he somehow unaware that his own principles leave him with no grounds for complaint when something like this happens? Or that all sorts of other people face this sort of thing all the time?
No grounds indeed.
I still feel some sympathy for him simply because my own family has been reviewing insurance options and it’s a quagmire deciding whether to go with my company, her company, striking out independently, etc.
From a policy standpoint the American system is a mess. No, health care is not a right, it is a set of goods and services for which ultimately a bill comes due. But it’s not just any random set of goods and services, it’s something that people can’t be without in a civilized society.
Long term, I don’t see how single payer can be avoided. The only question is when and in what form.