Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unwilling to Contribute to the Costs of its Own Objectives

by Daniel L. Bennett

The higher ed establishment has outdone itself with a recent letter that it sent to Congress, ostensibly supporting the proposed health care bill, but asking for special treatment with respect to "student group-like insurance plans". My problem with the fact that many colleges mandate students to maintain health insurance while enrolled (forced consumption), often with enrollment in the college insurance plan as the default, aside, this is very troubling.

In its letter, the group suggests that the bill will subject the student plans to the same reforms that apply to individual plans, and that this would lead to higher premiums. This is due to the fact that the bill will essentially subsidize the health care costs of riskier consumers (old, unhealthy) by enforcing higher premiums on less risky consumers (young, healthy). Forcing all persons to buy health insurance regardless of risk or need in order to spread the risk of the insurance pool is the fundamental theory behind the bill's attempt to lower health care costs and expand coverage. This necessitates that the traditional college age group be subject to higher insurance premiums -whether they are on their parent's plan or a school-sponsored one. Exempting such a huge segment of the young and healthy population from incurring the premium increases needed to subsidize the government's social intervention would render the effort much more costly.

The group's letter also expresses concern that the health care bill could reduce public support of higher education due to the state's having to spend more on Medicaid because the bill would increase the numbers enrolled in the program. This is a likely outcome of the bill, which ought to be reason for the higher ed establishment to oppose the bill, rather than support it. Yet, the group instead opts to plea for mercy in the form of federal subsidies to offset the increase in state Medicaid costs in an attempt to preserve their share of funding.

Despite contending in the letter that higher ed advances the common good, its plea for special treatment suggests otherwise. The lobby expresses support for a bill that will in some way fulfill its desire for so-called social justice by expanding publicly provided health care coverage by imposing costs on all others (not to mention stripping away individual liberty and choice), but wishes to shield itself from contributing to this social goal that it so feverishly promotes. The higher ed establishment once again provides evidence that it only seeks to advance its own interests, with complete disregard for the costs conferred to the public at large. This is despicable.

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