Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mandating it don't make it so

A year after Massachusetts became the only state to require that individuals have health coverage, residents face deadlines to either sign up or lose their personal tax exemption, worth $219 on next year’s state income tax returns. More than 200,000 previously uninsured residents have enrolled, but state officials estimate that at least that number, and perhaps twice as many, have not.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, support a mandate. It is, they say, the only way to guarantee that everyone is covered and to thereby bring down costs by spreading the country’s insurance risk as broadly as possible. ...

“At 27, it’s not like I’m thinking, ‘Oh, man, what if I need an operation down the line?’ ” said Samuel B. Hagan of Lenox, a courier who remains uninsured. “Furthest thing from my head.” ...

John E. McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All, an advocacy group based here, said he found it breathtaking that political leaders were calling for an individual mandate well before there was any way to measure the success of the Massachusetts experiment.
--Kevin Sack, NYT, on data-free wishful thinking

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