Jonathan Chait is not a stupid man. He is not a man who doesn’t read or pay attention. Therefore, one must assume that in writing his latest article for the TNR describing the GOP health plan alternatives as “Dickensian”, he consciously misrepresented the GOP legislation. He proclaims that Health Savings Account benefit only the healthy while ignoring the sick. He further accuses the GOP of promoting the idea that good health is some sort of reflection of moral propriety.
Of course, like most liberal representations of GOP proposals it is a ridiculous characterization. But in the process, Mr. Chait reveals the typical liberal failure to connect with reality. In the liberal world view economies and people are static. So, Mr. Chait proclaims that society can be divided into the healthy and the sick. Healthy people, he notes, understandably don’t want to subsidize the sick because if they are Republican they are selfish and morally impaired.
The reality is that most people, (thank heaven) start out life as healthy and end up toward the end of life with a host of maladies. So most people fit in to both categories ( healthy or sick) at different times of their lives. Health Savings Accounts allow healthy people to save for the time when they will be sick.
Mr Chait then makes the point that the tax exemption for Health Savings Accounts is worth more for people who pay taxes than people who don’t pay taxes. He fails to acknowledge that two of the plans that have been most cited by advocates of HSA’s — Whole Foods and the State of Indiana, include a provision for employer contributions to HSAs. More important, he fails to acknowledge that the current tax exemption for health insurance payments made by employers similarly is a greater benefit for people who pay taxes than those who don’t.
Third he fails to acknowledge that people who are poor and sick and can’t afford to pay for their own healthcare will continue to be eligible for Medicaidor something like it under any Republican plan. But of course, including these details would derail his attempt to paint Republicans as the selfish people who don’t care.
The worst part of his argument is that he completely ignores the reason Republicans are willing to put the same amount of money into a Health Savings Account and High deductible insurance as is now paid for comprehensive coverage — because when people benefit by asking the price of something and challenge the utility and effectiveness of a procedure or a drug, they will make sound choices that cost less.
The truth that Chait is trying to hide is that Republicans have become the party of the little guy, championing the right of ordinary people to make their own health care decisions and while the Democrats have become the party of Experts who sit on death panels and tell us little people what’s good for us.