Rising Health Costs May Renew Call for Universal Health Insurance

You need a subscription to access this Wall Street Journal article, but I’ll quote liberally.

Support for a change in how health-care coverage is presently provided appears to be growing among many diverse constituencies, including both Republicans and Democrats.
The reasons are easy enough to understand. With average health-insurance premiums for families potentially accounting for 21% of median household income, USA Today reports that “Rising health care costs are increasingly pressuring the middle class, adding a large and politically influential group to the category of those who fear they may soon have to do without.”

A story appearing in the Miami Herald said: “Nationally, premiums rose 13.9 percent in 2003 compared with the previous year. During the past three years, total premiums for family coverage increased by almost 42 percent, while California saw worker contributions for family coverage jump by nearly 70 percent to $2,452 in 2003 from $1,450 in 2000.”

…proposals for some form of universal health insurance are surfacing all over the media. One of those proposals is so-called mandatory health insurance. Under such a plan, Americans would be “required” to maintain health insurance in much the same way laws now require the purchase of auto insurance.

An article by the New America Foundation explains how such a system might work: “States would establish insurance pools that would offer every American a choice among competing private insurance plans. Insurers offering coverage through these pools would be required to offer a core benefits package and could not discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Individuals could purchase more-comprehensive coverage.”

Should a proposal emerge, it may enjoy broad-based support among voters. A survey last month by the New American Foundation found “that Many Americans Are Open to the Idea of Mandatory Health Insurance Coverage for Adults; The Majority Support Mandatory Coverage for Children” and that “seven in ten Americans (74%) believe a law providing health insurance to the uninsured is needed in a year.”