If we take Obama literally, then shouldn't we applaud insurance companies? Don't we want them to ration care by paying for it for those who are sick and not paying for it for those who are healthy? Fire insurance companies ration payments to those whose house has not burned down, saving the money for people who are insured and whose houses have burned down.
Of course, that's not what he meant. He meant the following:
And the insurance companies continue to ration health insurance based on who's sick and who's healthy; on who can pay and who can't pay.
And of course he meant that they tend to deny coverage or charge premiums to those who are sick.
Why did he make that verbal slip? Because he's used to making it on purpose. He, like so many people who advocate further government intervention in health insurance, has been trying to confuse the issue for years--and he ended up confusing himself. President Clinton did it regularly, talking about tens of millions of people going without health care when what was really true was--and is--that tens of millions of people go without health insurance. There has always been a large uncompensated health care sector--doctors and hospitals giving care but not collecting, or not collecting much, from those who can't pay. Moreover, many people who lack health insurance actually, believe it or not, pay for their own health care. Health economist Linda Gorman writes:
Overall, national estimates suggest that the uninsured pay for about half of their care
People who oppose the Obama/Senate/House plans for further intervention are wrong to criticize universal health care. We already have universal health care. That doesn't mean it's not rationed. It is rationed, both to those with health insurance and to those without health insurance. But in that sense it's rationed everywhere. In Canada, the provincial governments ration by making people wait, by denying coverage of certain drugs and procedures, and by making it illegal for people to buy health care, except on a few procedures.