November 14, 2007
Is The Massachusetts Plan Failing?
I don't think we're yet at a told-you-so moment with the Massachusetts health care plan. So far as I can tell, with seven weeks left, 20 percent of the state's uninsured population hasn't signed up for insurance. Given that people are lazy, and tend to wait till deadlines to do things, that's not exactly a shocker. You should see how I handle bills. Moreover, the question with the individual mandate plans is not whether people sign up in advance, but whether they sign up after the plans kick in. Put differently, what an individual mandate does is levy a financial penalty on those who don't sign up for insurance. They do that because we expect people to not sign up for insurance. So the question is whether that penalty works -- whether it can be enforced, be politically sustained, and then function as a spur to push people into the coverage pool. If that doesn't work, then the Massachusetts plan won't work either. But we're not there yet, nor anywhere near it.