Are price controls on health insurance a good idea?

Here’s a startling chunk of President Obama’s speech on health insurance yesterday (the emphasis is mine):

So this is a long-overdue victory for America’s consumers and patients. And yes, it does away with the status quo that some insurance companies have taken advantage of for so long. But insurance companies should see this reform as an opportunity to improve care and increase competition. They shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases that don’t boost care and inflate their bottom line.

The point is that there are genuine cost-drivers that are not caused by insurance companies. But what is also true is we’ve got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs. So what we do is make sure that the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to promote competition, transparency and better deals for consumers. The CEOs here today need to know that they’re going to be required to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases on your websites, as well as the law’s new website — healthcare.gov. As we set up the exchanges, we’ll be watching closely, and we’ll fully support states if they exercise their review authority to keep excessively expensive plans out of their insurance exchanges.
None of this is designed to deprive insurance companies of fair rates. And as I mentioned when we were meeting with the CEOs, there are a lot of cost-drivers other than those that are within insurance companies’ control.

That sounds an awful lot like he wants to impose price controls. Since when do price ceilings ever succeed at anything but causing shortages of whatever product/service they’re supposed to make “affordable?”

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