Obama’s campaign can’t count: Individual Mandates and the number of uninsured

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.

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9 thoughts on “Obama’s campaign can’t count: Individual Mandates and the number of uninsured

  1. Yes, Obama’s healthcare plan has a huge whole in it – it does FORCE people to do something. Sadly, the Left refuses to even contemplate allowing Americans to exercise any authority over their own lives.

    Obama’s plan is touted as flawed because it admits to- and requires personal responsibility and choice.

  2. Jonolan

    I think it’s cute that you use right wing talking points instead of refuting the substantial number of arguments that have been made on this blog, and in general, explaining why individual mandates are necessary.

    Maybe if you construct a warranted and intelligent argument for why mandates are bad then I’ll acknowledge your complaints.

  3. Simple – America is and should remain a nation of personal liberties. A plan that offers insurance coverage to everyone is wonderful, but if you force everyone to participate you have removed part of the liberties our nation was founded on – self determination.

    Why should you want me or anyone to be forced to have health insurance?

  4. personal lliberties and absolute freedom are not the samething. Sorry try again. The argument…er assertion you’re providing is a general complaint about the role of government. I have no use in arguing against empty libertarian principles that will never happen. Do you have a specific argument for why mandates are bad outside of your Ron Paul-esque kookisms?

  5. Jonolan

    The easy answer to your question is that, mandates are necessary because if a person lack health insurance but needs treatment then the government must foot the bill if the person can not pay for it. (Usually people can’t afford their health care without insurance.)This is the “hidden tax” that Romney referred to when passing his health care bill in Massachusetts…before he was a tool…

    But for those of you who actually READ my blog you might remember the following detailed posts. (And just for the heck of it I added more detailed posts about it)

    https://thechairman66.wordpress.com/2007/12/04/the-case-for-individual-mandates/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/opinion/30krugman.html?_r=1&n=Top/Opinion/Editorials%20and%20Op-Ed/Op-Ed/Columnists/Paul%20Krugman&oref=slogin
    http://www.healthbeatblog.org/2007/12/obama-says-no-o.html
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=wheres_obamas_mandate
    http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/2007/11/barack-obama-ha.html

  6. Jonolan is not just parroting right wing talking points, he’s parroting the Obama campaign – virtually word for word what Axelrod has said.

    Clinton has said again and again that people with private insurance won’t be ‘forced’ onto a government plan. It’s the people with insurance (not the uninsured) who drive political battles over healthcare. To shoot down universal healthcare, the right wing will try to confuse people who have insurance about the mandate.

    Obama didn’t object to the mandate on principle – at firs he said it wasn’t practical because the right wing would attack it. Then Obama turns around and attacks the mandate with the same right wing rhetoric that scared him off of the mandate in the first place. Obama should just say he has a good plan to increase costs, but he does not support universal healthcare. Will that cost his campaign some soundbite votes? Yes. Does Obama’s desire to be President take priority over healthcare reform?

  7. Ten-K,

    I’m not confused at all. Clinton’s and / or Edward’s plan would use the force of law to compel me to purchase private health insurance. I’m against that. I’m also against seatbelt and helmet laws because I don’t think it’s right for the government to enact laws to protect US citizens from their own actions.

    Now, Phil has a valid point about people who can’t / won’t pay their medical bills. I wonder how much that costs per year.

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