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Sure Enough

The New York Times reports that “President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies.”

How fun!  Those of us who remember the 1970s recall the frolics sparked by America’s last great experiment with widespread price caps – namely, those on oil and natural gas.  The resulting short supplies gave us the thrill of waiting in long lines – and sometimes even getting into fistfights – for the privilege of buying a few gallons of gasoline.  People literally chilled out in their homes for want of heat.  The Nixon administration imposed a national speed limit of 55 MPH.  These and other consequences certainly made for a memorable decade.

What cool adventures await us if Mr. Obama succeeds in giving Uncle Sam power to control insurance rates?  Reduced coverage?  Hidden fees aimed at skirting government regulations?  Surly service?  More trouble and delays collecting on our policies?

Or, as my friend Nick Calapa suspects, private health insurers driven out of the market?

Whatever the details, it’ll be a premium experience!