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Universal Catastrophic Insurance?

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Universal Catastrophic Insurance?"

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JacobLyles asks: “What do you think of McArdle’s idea of universal catastrophic coverage? Relatively affordable and universal.”

Short answer: I think that’d be great.

Long answer: I’m not a believer in the “here’s this other idea of mine that’s good & since it’s good that’s a good reason to oppose Obama’s health care plan” theory of evaluating legislation. A bill that would have Medicare provide catastrophic coverage to all Americans would be a good bill. The House health care bill is also a good bill. The Senate health care bill is another good bill. And the administration outline is is yet another good bill.

Back in the winter of 2008-2009 if Max Baucus had asked me what I thought he should do, I would have said he should abandon hopes of a bipartisan, regular-order, comprehensive bill and advised him to draft a series of narrower proposals that can pass under reconciliation rules. Something along the lines of this universal catastrophic coverage idea would have been a good candidate. The Obama/Baucus theory of getting comprehensive legislation done struck me as doomed to failure. I think the odds are that my skepticism will be vindicated, but there’s still a very good chance that I’ll be proven wrong.

It’s important to note, though, that even though some pundits who I imagine usually vote GOP support universal catastrophic insurance that there’s no way actual Republican Party politicians would back the tax increases that would be needed to pay for it. John Kerry had a proposal in the 2004 campaign that was more-or-less along these lines and it was attacked as a budget-busting, tax-raising, socialistic government takeover of the health care system.

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