Paging the Health Wonks

I wonder what health wonk types like Ezra Klein and Jon Cohn have to say about this:

Obama floats a new detail — at least one I hadn’t heard — of how he might deal with the “free rider” problem on his healthcare plan — healthy young people who don’t get insurance until they get sick.
You could “charge a penalty if they try to sign up later,” he says on Meet the Press. When he gave a very long answer to a similar question in Indianola last week, he suggested allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans, but didn’t mention this.
This isn’t a mandate, as he tells Russert, but it does acknowledge the issue of healthy young people who choose not to buy in.

Clinton and Edwards (and their surrogates, like AFSCME) have obscured the issue by talking about the Obama plan denying sick people access to health care, which no serious analyst thinks it would, but most substantive critiques of the plan, like those Klein and Cohn have offered, focus on the free-riding problem. And now Obama has offered a non-mandate solution to it. The question is whether an incentive like this would reduce free-riding as effectively – or more so – than a mandate. I’d be really interested to hear what people more knowledgeable about the subject than myself – like Klein and Cohn – think the answer is.

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