Sounds like a good time to explain a few facts about the modern insurance market. Start with the reality that nine out of 10 people under 65 are covered by their employers, most of which cover all employees and charge everyone the same rate. President Obama's horror stories are about the individual insurance market, where some 15 million people buy coverage outside of the workplace.The WSJ conveniently ignores the 50 million Americans who aren't covered, but they don't count. And yes, the 150 million Americans under 65 who have health insurance, roughly 90%, 135 million or so, have employee-based insurance.
Mr. Obama does have a point about insurance security. If you develop an expensive condition such as cancer or heart disease, and then get fired or divorced or your employer goes out of business—then individual insurance is going to be very expensive if it's available. But what the President and Democrats won't tell you is that these problems are the result mainly of government intervention.
But blaming the higher cost of self-insurance on government intervention is a bit like blaming the cost of a $200,000 Italian sportscar on import fees. I've been in the insurance business, folks. Insurance works off of the Law of Large Numbers, which basically says if you have a large enough group of people insured, you'll make more money off the premiums on the healthy people than you'll pay out on the sick ones. Self-insurance is expensive because it's just that...self-insurance. For the most part that means that large number is one...which is not a large number. Needless to say, you'll pay more. Government intervention has nothing to do with it, it's actuarial science and economics, and profit motive. Period.
Now, the op-ed piece goes on to suggest that forcing the insurance companies to cover sick people is going to basically double everyone's premiums. If that was done without a mandate to cover all Americans, without a public option, and without an insurance exchange for people to shop around in, the WSJ's board would be correct. Lack of competition is the exact reason why insurance premiums are higher. The point is, a major part of the Obamacare plan is to take measures to lower costs through both competition (public option, insurance exchange) and increasing the number of people covered (Law of Large Numbers, mandates) will lower the premiums for all Americans.
It's the entire package that is the reform. Just saying you're going to cover people regardless of illness, without the rest of the measures, will not work. But saying that's all the reform plan consists of and not mentioning the rest of the plan is rank dishonesty.
Then again, this is the Wall Street Journal's editorial board we're talking about here.