The half-government solution

Given this choice between the rock of government mandates and the hard place of having fewer customers, the insurers seem to be embracing the government.

Wall Street Journal headerOne would expect a Wall Street Journal piece on health care to bash Democrats.

Sometimes, one would be wrong.

A piece yesterday by Laura Meckler notes that Democratic health care plans may actually be better for the insurance industry than what Republicans offer, but adds this important caveat.

Democrats' plans would hasten the day when government pays the biggest share of the nation's $2 trillion health-care bill. Already, government pays 47%. Increased spending of $100 billion a year could bring that to 50% by 2011, six years earlier than maintaining the current course.

Note that even without reform, Meckler is saying the government will be paying over half the nation's health care bills in a decade.

The other point Meckler makes, quietly, is that Republican plans might erode the employer-based system patients now in place, and could cause many younger workers to opt for cash instead. This would also hurt the industry.

Given this choice between the rock of government mandates and the hard place of having fewer customers, the insurers seem to be embracing the government.

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