Home Depot joins the list of employers cutting back on medical coverage for their workers as ObamaCare looms. This should not be surprising: It is a logical consequence of the incentives set up by the scheme, just as surely as colleges are now cutting back on the courses they offer, in order to keep more of their faculty from crossing the “full time” threshold and thus triggering greater obligations.
Many people roll their eyes at “those idiots in Washington!” as if these obvious outcomes are somehow a surprise. No, the people in Washington have trained economists on their staffs. They understand incentives, even though their rhetoric suggests that they don’t. Over the coming years, as the delivery of US healthcare suffers and citizens become justifiably outraged, they will be led to demand greater and greater government involvement to thwart the “greedy” insurance companies and “overpriced” hospitals. This is part of the plan, as some glib proponents of ObamaCare have let slip.
For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in August was interviewed for a PBS program “Nevada Week in Review” in which the following exchange occurred:
“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.
When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
Or consider Paul Krugman, who recently wrote at his NYT blog that the solution for rising health care costs is to have the entire health sector run on the pattern of Medicaid:
Everyone who’s serious about the budget realizes that to the extent we do have a long-run fiscal problem…it’s mainly about health care costs…
Meanwhile, we have ample evidence that we do know how to control health costs. Every other advanced country does it better than we do — and Medicaid does it far better than private insurance, and better than Medicare too. It does it by being willing to say no, which lets it extract lower prices and refuse some low-payoff medical procedures.
But the problems of access, such as they are, would largely go away if most of the health insurance system were run like Medicaid, since doctors wouldn’t have so many patients able and willing to pay more.…
So, I’m not proposing that we turn the whole system into Medicaid any time soon. But what I take from the data is that if and when we feel the need to make tough choices — really, really make tough choices, not use the rhetoric of tough choices to justify what conservatives wanted to do in any case, namely privatize everything in sight — health cost control won’t turn out to be that hard after all. [Bold added.]
Ludwig von Mises argued that the “mixed economy” was an unstable system, because each new government intervention would lead to undesirable consequences that would then invite further interventions. No one has the right to be surprised when so-called ObamaCare doesn’t work, and sets up calls for a total government takeover of health care. That seems to have been the plan all along.