Lessons from the States on the Costs of Universal Health Care

Conn Carroll /

According to Gallup, 89% of adults report that they are currently covered by private health insurance, or a federal program such as Medicare or Medicaid. Only 11% say they have no health insurance. Also 58% of Americans are satisfied with the total cost that they pay for their health care. Compare that to the 79% of Americans who say they are dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in this country, a figure up from 71% in 2001.

It would seem form these results that Americans want to keep their choice in health care provider and would not like to see the total cost of health care in this country sky rocket. Unfortunately that is exactly the opposite direction President-elect Barak Obama wants to take us. We have already seen what happens when health insurance is guaranteed to all in both Hawaii and Massachusetts.

Hawaii enacted government subsidized universal health care in 2007, but abandoned it after just 7 months. Hawaii Department of Human Services’ Dr. Kenny Fink explained, “People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free. I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.” In other words the costs were just too high.

Massachusetts has experienced similar problems with their universal health care plan. The state vastly underestimated the costs of their program which led to a $100 million state budget shortfall this year. And the problem will only get worse. The program is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years.

Think that number of 79% of Americans who are dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in this country will go up if the left succeeds in establishing a national universal health care plan? Meanwhile, under the current system, economist Mark Perry reports:

NPR had a segment today about getting insurance quotes through a website called eHealthInsurance.com.

For a 36-year old male living in my area, there were 119 quotes through eHealthInsurance with monthly premiums ranging from a low of $37 per month ($10,000 deductible, co-insurance of 20%) to a high of $232 per month ($0 deductible, 0% coinsurance), and there were 62 different plans with premiums of $100 per month of less. For a 36-year old female, the premiums are slightly higher, ranging from $47 to $307 per month.

Bottom Line: At a monthly cost comparable to a typical monthly cable TV plan, and maybe even about the same cost as a monthly cell phone plan, isn’t it true that an individual can easily purchase relatively affordable health insurance in the private market? I wonder how many of the 47 million have cable TV and cell phones, and voluntarily chose not to buy health insurance, even though they obviously can afford it?