I'm constantly amazed at the idea that a nationalized health insurance system is considered by many to be the only viable solution to our current problem. When you look at all the types of insurance, health insurance is the only one that seems to be a problem. And interestingly enough, health insurance is the one with the most government regulation. I know... shocking isn't it? So what is the typical liberal solution a problem that has been caused by government over-regulation? More government regulation... of course! So for your benefit... here is Nick Schweitzer's solution to the health insurance crisis.
Step 1: Abolish All Laws Requiring Company Sponsorship of Insurance. I make this step one because it is the biggest problem in health insurance today! Forcing companies to sponsor health insurance plans has caused the majority of our problems. One of the primary issues with company sponsored plans is that they are group underwritten. That means that a corporation asks an insurance company to underwrite the company as a whole, not the individual people. The result is that young healthy people pay more than they would normally have to in order to subsidize the older and less healthy people that work at that company.
This does a couple things. The first is that it discourages people from making healthy choices in their life because they have young healthy single people to subsidize them. Secondly, it discourages real competition to lower prices, because insurance companies are really trying to woo corporate clients, not individuals. You end up having to pay whatever your company tells you to, so price becomes less of a deciding factor for you as an individual. And because of the tax liability that comes with buying your own insurance, you're stupid to not use your company sponsored insurance.
You don't get car insurance, or home owners insurance through your company. Why should you get health insurance? And if I leave my current employer, why shouldn't my health insurance go with me? It could, if I'm willing to pay for COBRA... but the COBRA rate for me will always be higher than if I were to go to an insurance company and ask them to underwrite me as an individual. The only reason I continue to pay for a company sponsored plan is because of the tax liability. Company sponsored plans are the only ones that can be paid for with pre-tax dollars.
Step 2: Allow Any Insurance Plan to be Paid for with Pre-Tax Dollars. As I said above, the only reason that I bother with company sponsored insurance is because it ends up being cheaper than an individually underwritten plan. But the only reason it's cheaper is because I'd have to pay for an individual plan with after-tax dollars. Believe me, given the choice, I'd rather get a raise equivalent to what my company pays for my insurance, and then buy my own with pre-tax dollars. Then that plan is mine, no matter where I go. If we as a nation want to make health insurance a national priority, then making any plan payable with pre-tax dollars is a no-brainer.
Step 3: Remove Restrictions on HSA Plan Purchasing. Currently you can only contribute to an HSA (Health Savings Account) with your pre-tax dollars if you have a "qualifying health plan". Those qualifying health plans are generally high deductible plans. But why is that? If you want to store up pre-tax dollars to pay for medical care, why should you be forced into a high deductible plan? Why shouldn't people with low deductibles be given the same option? HSA's are a fantastic option for people, because it allows them to save up money for a rainy day, and not pay taxes on it. The problem is that there are so many restrictions on them based on the type of health insurance you have, that they are a tax quagmire of confusion if you happen to go from a high deductible plan to a low deductible plan.
Step 4: Remove Regulations on What Must Be Covered. If we do the first three steps, then this fourth one ought not be a problem. If we allow people to buy their own insurance from whatever company they choose like they do for every other insurance in existence, then there shouldn't be a need to force insurance companies to cover certain things. When people go to a company to buy their insurance, they would get to weigh the cost of certain coverage vs. the benefit. If they decide that they don't want to pay the increased rate, they wouldn't have to. If you combine that with the safety net of an HSA plan, it's actually a pretty good deal. I'm always amazed at the liberals who argue for increased regulation in what has to be covered, and then complain that people can't afford health insurance. That's like requiring that all cars have V8 engines, climate control, and GPS, and then complaining that not everyone can afford a Cadillac. We should let people buy a Chevy Metro if that's all they can afford.
That's it. If we were to do these four simple things, I guarantee that health insurance rates would begin to go down. If people are curious, I can go into more detail on any of my four steps. I have a surprising amount of knowledge in these areas. But remember Step 1. Group vs. Individually underwritten plans are the dirtiest secret in health insurance today.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in anyway.