So it turns out that, in spite of all those rosy predictions of Obamacare’s inevitable success, the law isn’t working: health insurance premiums on the federal exchanges are going to spike by an average of 25 percent nationwide next year.
This was both predictable and predicted. Indeed, the only people who seemed totally unaware of Obamacare’s inevitable death spiral were the folks who wrote the law, passed it, and championed it for the past six years. Nobody bothered to clue the Democrats in. (Nobody bothered to clue the journalists in, either.)
Sarah Kliff, one of Vox’s editors, thinks she has found the solution to Obamacare’s woes: “Obamacare’s mandate isn’t strong enough.” Apparently the Affordable Care Act’s tax/penalty/whatever it was simply didn’t go far enough: it turns out it was cheaper for young, healthy individuals to avoid health insurance altogether and just pay the fine rather than buy a plan with expensive premiums. The solution to Kliff and others is more Obamacare: higher taxes on people who don’t purchase health insurance.
Got that? Obamacare—a program that effectively nationalized one-sixth of the U.S. economy, rewrote the relationship between American citizen and American state, and imposed a national tax upon people for the high crime of not doing anything at all—didn’t go far enough.
Most of us always knew it would come to this: the serious systemic failures of Obamacare would pile up, year after year, until some wonk somewhere would discover the solution: more government. The great irony, of course, is that Obamacare itself was inspired by a colossal failure of government health-care policy.
There are a whole host of reasons why the American health care is uniquely dysfunctional and counterproductive, and for the most part they are reasons related to government: too much regulation, too many stupid assumptions, too many half-baked tax schemes and mandates and building codes and licensing requirements.
But perhaps the most pernicious problem—certainly the most systemic one—is this: when all of these government problems take their inevitable negative toll on the health-care market, there is always someone waiting around to say, “Wait a second, guys—maybe we need more regulations and higher taxes!”