Is choosing your health care plan dangerous?

Michael Cannon’s latest commentary on health care reform is a must read:

What I saw next was even scarier: The presidential debate, where Barack Obama told me how dangerous it would be to let me buy only the health-insurance features that I need.

Yet the fact that we can’t do that is a big reason why an estimated 46 million Americans lack health coverage. For example, thanks to lobbying by chiropractors and the like, the average state requires you to buy 38 “mandated benefits,” like it or not.

A bigger problem are regulations that require you to pay higher premiums so that others can wait until they are sick to purchase insurance. Those “community rating” laws generally tax the young to subsidize the old – who have more money to begin with.

New York, New Jersey and other 19 states impose such laws. University of Pennsylvania economist Mark Pauly finds that they drive healthy people from the market, increase the number of uninsured – and do little to boost coverage for the sick.

Overall, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that state regulations boost premium costs an average of 15 percent.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to choose the features of your health policy, just like your auto insurance? …

In the debate, Obama said, “We have a moral commitment as well as an economic imperative to do something about the health-care crisis.” Indeed we do. The first step is to treat consumers like adults, and stop letting special interests and the government choose our health insurance for us.