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Are they crazy?

President Bush is likely to endorse a bill currently making its way through Congress that mandates so-called mental health parity in insurance coverage. The Washington Post, as is typical, frames this as a debate between Republicans and business on the one hand and Democrats and "mental health advocates" on the other. (Because, after all, anybody who objects to big government hates mental health, as well.)

The main opposition has come from key GOP lawmakers in the House, who object to the higher cost the requirement would impose on employers.
Actually, the requirement wouldn't impose a higher cost on employers. It would impose a higher cost on employees. Employers aren't going to absorb the costs out of the goodness of their hearts; if the non-salary costs of employees increase, then employers will reduce salaries to compensate. Or they'll hire fewer employees. Either way, it's hardly a victory for employees.

The Post describes the primary debate as being over the increased cost of such additional insurance coverage. Is there nobody in Congress who actually thinks it's a bad idea to be micromanaging health insurance, regardless of the costs? If employers and insurers want to offer mental health coverage, let them. But why should Congress tell an employer what sort of insurance to offer? Whatever happened to letting people choose for themselves?

One can predict the chain of events to follow: Insurance costs will rise. Fewer Americans will have insurance. More and more politicians will campaign on the "Government needs to provide welfare insurance to those who don't have it" platform. And we'll all have to suffer through the agony of watching more Harry-and-Louise commercials.

And the worst part is, the people who really need mental health treatment the most are likely to be unemployed, so this proposed law would do little for them.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 26, 2002 7:05 PM.

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