The Blog

A Winning Alternative to Obamacare

6:00 AM, Feb 10, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL AND JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

While most Americans don’t support Obamacare’s income redistribution, they also don’t want to see those with lower incomes tossed off their newly acquired insurance.  In terms of effects on the near-poor and the middle class, the two most recent GOP alternatives tend to err in opposite directions.  The RSC proposal relies on a tax deduction, not a credit. So it provides a significant assist to the upper half of income-earners, while millions of lower-income people would get comparatively little help in paying for their insurance.  The Coburn-Burr-Hatch proposal, on the other hand, income-tests its tax credit, therefore doing little or nothing for much of the middle class.  Our alternative effectively splits this difference, offering tax credits rather than deductions, but not means-testing them—thus helping both the newly insured near-poor and the neglected-by-Obamacare middle class. 

To solve the problem of expensive preexisting conditions, our alternative would allocate $7.5 billion a year in defined-contribution federal funding for state-run “high risk” pools.  Through such pools, anyone could buy affordable, partially subsidized insurance, and no one could be turned away because of a preexisting condition.  We also propose (1) that no one could be dropped from, or re-priced by, their existing insurance—including insurance purchased under Obamacare—because of a preexisting condition; (2) that those who turn 18 (or leave their parents’ insurance) have a one-time, one-year buy-in-period during which they couldn’t be denied coverage, or charged more, for a preexisting condition—and that parents be granted a similar one-year buy-in-period for newborns; and (3) that people be able to move from employer-based plans to individual plans, or between individual plans of the same level, without being denied coverage, or being re-priced, for a preexisting condition.

There’s more to our proposal, and we invite readers to take a look at it at www.2017project.org. We’re certain it’s not perfect, and we hope others will find ways to improve upon it.  But we do think it sketches a compelling alternative to Obamacare, one that should allow Americans to have confidence in what would follow repeal. For this proposal can make the following winning claim:  under this conservative alternative, health costs would drop, liberty would be secured, and any American who wants to buy health insurance would be able to do so. And we can be freed from the nightmare of Obamacare. 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers