Single-Payer in Vermont

Vermont’s motto is “Freedom and Unity”. Megan McArdle has a Bloomberg View column talking about how they’re so into unity, they decided that there should be only one entity paying for healthcare in the state, with predictable results:

Although Act 48 required Vermont to create a single-payer system by 2017, the state hasn’t drafted a bill spelling out how to raise the additional $1.6 billion a year (based on the state’s estimate) the system needs. The state collected only $2.7 billion in tax revenue in fiscal year 2012, so that’s a vexingly large sum to scrape together….

You should read the whole thing, but this is my favorite paragraph:

Now, you can argue that people should be glad to make this trade-off, not just for peace of mind, but because they will trade higher taxes for lower (no) insurance premiums. You can also argue that poor people in America should be laughing and dancing and singing all day because every one of them is economically better off than starving farmers in drought-ridden regions of Africa. Neither argument will do you much good, however, because that’s not how people think.

I disagree with her on one point:

This should be instructive for those who hope — or fear — that Obamacare has all been an elaborate preliminary to a nationwide single-payer system. It isn’t. The politics are impossible, and even if they weren’t, the financing would be unthinkable.

The politics of Obamacare were considered impossible, and the financing is unthinkable. Why should its follow-on, after the forced near-collapse of the traditional system, be worse?

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