Equity and Health Care

Wall Street Journal editorial looks at reforming health care through the tax code. That is, giving individuals the same tax benefits in buying health insurance as employers, along with capping the tax benefit for employer-provided insurance (which the editorial notes, “benefits the rich”, to borrow John Edwards’ rhetoric)

They’re uncharacteristically missing a chance to effectively raise taxes on “the rich.” Curbing these subsidies could generate billions for their elaborate “universal” health programs. More to the point, this is a simple matter of equity, usually Democratic terrain. If the government is going to support health insurance, then those subsidies ought to apply regardless of a person’s income,
where they work, or how they purchase their insurance.

So why the Democratic silence? Perhaps it’s because they think such a change would interfere with their main policy goal, which is slow but steady progress toward government control of the health-care market. Or possibly it’s because many of the most generous tax-subsidized health plans come from union-negotiated contracts. Or maybe Democrats simply don’t want to concede that President Bush has a point.

Investor’s Business Daily also addresses the divergence in health care proposals between greater government control and free market solutions:

Its key idea is to give every individual a real choice of insurers and plan types, with incentives for buying frugally and choosing the one that delivers the best coverage and care for the money.