Yes, Granny may be the biggest loser. But her grandkids will lose, too. They will lose a considerable degree of freedom of choice under current health care costs. You see, they’re going to foot the bill for reform.

We’re counting on you, kids!

The Washington Post puts this in fairly anodyne terms today:

A 2008 study by the Urban Institute found that more than 10 million young adults ages 19 to 26 lack health insurance coverage. For many of those people, health-care reform would offer the promise of relatively inexpensive individual policies, which do not exist in many states today.

The trade-off is that young people would no longer be permitted to bet on their good health: All the reform legislation before Congress would require individuals to buy at least minimal coverage.

Don’t you love that trade-off? Only the tradees will have no choice. Young people will be dragooned into paying for the reform. You may argue that twenty-year olds should have insurance. But, as a former young person, I’ll tell you this: I made some choices, good ones, as it turns out, that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d been responsible for somebody else’s health care. I was a freelance writer. Let me assure you,  this would not have been possible if I’d been forced to buy policies that went towards paying for somebody else’s medical needs.

The President likes to present himself as the foe of insurance companies. But  DC Examiner’s Timothy Carney explained in an excellent column last week who the real beneficiary of this mandate will be:

The individual mandate has been the Holy Grail for the insurance companies. What business wouldn’t love similar treatment? Maybe Apple can get a provision stating (to use Obama’s phrasing) “individuals will be required to carry basic music players.” Perhaps Smith & Wesson can get its own individual mandate.

The key for the health insurers, though, is not so much the new clients it will pick up — the healthy 24-year-old who would rather insure himself with savings than throw the money into premiums — but the indirect economic effects. If you get fined $3,800 for not buying insurance, the industry — famously uncompetitive — never has to charge less than $3,800 a year in premiums. And if you’re getting by on a lean, low-premium plan, Obama might force you to buy a bigger plan than you need.

This is why the drug makers love it, too: The government will set minimum standards for the insurance we will all be forced to buy. Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), whose top lobbyist has been to the Obama White House at least six times this year, will make sure prescription drug coverage is in there.

President Obama is speaking at the University of Maryland at College Park Thursday—let’s hope the kids are as well-informed as some of the middle-aged folks who’ve turned up at town hall meetings.