Monday, August 17, 2009

A little housekeeping

I redid Categories over the weekend and may have ended up with even more of a mess than I started with - so I imagine Categories will be a little fluid for a while as I straighten things out. This process meant I skimmed a lot of what I’d written and some interesting patterns fell out when I did so. More about them in future posts.

I found an error in my post on revising the Federal individual income tax: I had a lapse of logic when I described how I would phase in my new tax plan. I updated the original post to fix that.

I also gave some thought to modifying my post on insuring the uninsured. I advocate letting people buy into the The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHP) and having the Federal government subsidize those who cannot afford it. After re-reading what I’d written, I considered letting people use whatever amount of government subsidy they would have gotten to buy into FEHP to buy into any private health insurance plan they wanted. I decided that would be a mistake. I believe the whole reason HR3200 has developed the hideously complicated Exchange with its Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans is to be sure that when people buy health insurance they’re getting a decent plan. If I modify my plan to let people use a government subsidy to buy into any private plan, it’s almost certain some people will end up in worthless plans. Since a mechanism for defining decent plans already exists via FEHP, why take that risk? (Hint to those who wrote the Exchange provisions in HR3200: you’re reinventing the wheel.)

And, yes, I understand the idea that people should be free to buy lousy insurance if they want, that there’s a limit to how much we can or should protect people from their own errors. However, if people buy lousy plans, get sick, and need medical care, society is not going to let them die; instead we’ll just pay again to get them that care. Which ties into my second reason for wanting to “nanny state” this issue: I’m not crazy about my tax dollars going to some fly-by-night insurance company that decamps to the South Pacific when their claims catch up with them. So I’ve made what I think is a good no-call and left my health insurance reform as is: the uninsured buy into FEHP with a government subsidy if needed.

Also if this post (via neoneocon) about the problems with Medicaid is accurate, I think moving Medicaid enrollees into FEHP looks like an even better idea. Sauce for the government employed goose is sauce for the poverty stricken gander - and even more so for the goslings.

Finally, commenter MrsWhatsit at neoneocon has made an excellent suggestion: use the unspent money from the February Stimulus Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 aka ARRA) to subsidize insurance for the uninsured. If we assume 75% of the approximately $700 Billion Stimulus is unspent, we can subsidize the uninsured signing up for FEHP for at least three years. (That’s assuming a worst case scenario in terms of costs.) That would, as I said in my original post, give us time to see if that’s really all we need to do. If so, we can figure out how to fund it going forward; if not, we can consider other reforms.

There. Dusted and vacuumed, even fluffed up the pillows a little.


Grim said...

Just wait until your blog is six years old, like Grim's Hall. The whole archive is like a long-abandoned basement. Once I cared deeply about the things stuck in there; but now there are so dusty and cobweb-covered that I can hardly dare imagine going to search even for the best buried things.

Elise said...

Considering the state of my actual basement, Grim, I can easily picture exactly what you mean.