The Wall Street Journal has a good article on the recent debate between Clinton and Obama on individual mandates and the number of Americans left uninsured. :
Mrs. Clinton charges that Mr. Obama’s plan would leave 15 million people without insurance. Outside experts agree that number is in the ballpark. If people aren’t required by law to buy insurance, many won’t. There are millions of children, for instance, who remain uninsured, even though they qualify for free or subsidized government programs.
In addition, all three candidates want to bar insurance companies from rejecting sick people or charging them more. But it is hard to require companies to insure expensive sick people if they aren’t guaranteed that cheap healthy people will balance them out.
More and more people are coming out against Obama’s health care plan by noting that it would leave 15 million people uninsured, despite spending the same amount of money as the Clinton/Edwards plans. I’ve yet to see the Obama campaign defend this claim that there will be large amounts of people who go without insurance. I think the child analogy is apt. Note that it is just an analogy, Obama mandates health care for children, however, the concept of people going without insurance even though it is available to them is significant.
The Obama campaign also has yet to respond to the claim that everyone’s inclusion in the system is necessary in order to bring down prices. So what has Obama’s response been?
Mr. Obama has replied that her attacks are more about politics than substance; they didn’t come, he noted, until she lost ground in the polls. But his advisers don’t dispute her central charge. Rather, they claim Mrs. Clinton’s plan would also leave millions without coverage.
Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee argues that if Mrs. Clinton’s health plan is enacted, she will have to waive the mandate for millions of people. That is because, he says, there isn’t enough money for subsidies to make health insurance affordable enough for people to buy it.
“You can’t put in a mandate until health care is affordable,” he says. He predicted that a Hillary Clinton administration would wind up exempting 20% of the uninsured, or about 10 million people. That is the percentage of uninsured adults who were exempted in Massachusetts, the only state to try an individual mandate.
It’s in his lack of refutation that Obama is tacitly admiting that his health care plan has a large hole which many Americans will slip through. Further, his “well you do too” attempt is clearly his campaign struggling to find a meme to tout in order to stop his backlash. But there’s a problem. His claims are wrong. :
That view may not be true. Ken Thorpe, a health-policy expert at Emory University who has advised all three major Democrats, said he ran cost estimates for the Clinton plan at the Clinton campaign’s request, and found there should be enough money to make insurance affordable for all. He said he ran three scenarios with varying levels of subsidies — from $100 billion a year to $120 billion a year. The campaign chose one in the middle: $110 billion.
But, the adviser said, it is wrong to assume that 20% of Americans will be exempted.