Last week’s CPAC conference’s discussion of health care was dominated by (yet more) calls for Obamacare’s repeal, along with preeminent mocker, Sarah Palin’s memorable “I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health care scam.” More measured Republicans worried that CPAC offered no constructive health care suggestions and ignored the new Republican alternative to Obamacare.
No one seems to have noticed that Ted Cruz fairly accurately characterized Obamacare as “a massive wealth transfer from young healthy people to everyone else.” That’s a pity. That sentence and Cruz’s contempt for such transfers are revealing. They show that Republican rhetoric conflicts with the economics of health insurance, in particular with the fact that only government interfering in the market can solve our health insurance problems. Republicans can only produce good health care policy when they build it on a base of reality.
Here is the economic reality that Cruz misses: health insurance consists of transfers from the healthy to the sick. It’s just like fire insurance. Everyone pays premiums. Those who have fires get massive transfers of wealth, paid for by those who don’t have fires. All insurance is about transfers from the lucky to the unlucky.