Mandated coverage: A smart idea?

Following the high-profile lead of Massachusetts, states like California are considering legislation requiring that citizens have health coverage. And in theory, that's good for providers, who theoretically end up carrying less bad debt created by uninsured patients.

However, as the Massachusetts example shows, it's easy to be seduced by the idea of seeing only insured patients--then finding out that the reality isn't as rosy as you'd hoped. I realize that I'm stating the obvious here, but I think it's worth noting that all coverage isn't made equal.

In Massachusetts, as they will elsewhere, reforms have relied heavily on high-deductible health plans. While high-deductible plans may work for some, it's clear from current data that consumers aren't funding them fully from the get-go. And that means that even insured patients are uninsured when it comes to receiving routine care.

To me, this suggests that the industry's leading lights ought to be very careful when throwing their weight behind any "coverage" proposal. Using up political capital to protect your interests is fine, but if you don't like the results when you're done, well, then, where are you? - Anne