So now that it looks like the public “option” is dying, those of us who want the government to stay out of our purchasing and consumption of medical treatment can breathe a sigh of relief, right? Don’t believe it. They will next try to pass some watered-down piece of garbage that is still garbage, probably at the very least to include mandated health insurance. And doesn’t that look like fun? And if they pass that and it’s a boondoggle, they’ll point to it to say “See! That’s why we need the government to run it!” The camel’s nose under the tent.
I don’t understand why I’ve only seen one post anywhere that even mentions the real problem and points the way to a perfectly workable, even fairly cheap, solution: cut the tie between employment and health insurance. How many people even know what that tie is–the reason why most people get medical insurance from their employers? It’s because when you buy it that way, it’s bought with pretax dollars, whereas if you buy it yourself, it’s posttax. So your company is paying some money in on your behalf instead of paying it to you as wages, it doesn’t get taxed, and you kick in the rest off your paycheck, pretax as well. So who do the insurance companies market their plans to? Your employer, who wants to get a great plan that pays for everything that it can hold up as a swell “benefit” of coming to work for them. I’d rather have more money and buy cheap insurance myself–catastrophe-only insurance that would pay if I had to be hospitalized or needed ongoing treatment for a serious illness but that would let me pony up on my own when I go to see my doctor about that damned itchy eczema on my elbow or take my son to his doctor because he bonked his head even though there’s obviously absolutely nothing wrong with him.
Sever the link via changes in the tax law. Either lay the income tax on all money that pays for medical insurance, or take it off of all of it–one seemingly simple way to do that might be to have your insurance company send you a tax form in February, like a W-2, that lists the total of all money you’ve paid in insurance premiums that year, and you file that with your tax return and the amount is deducted from your taxable income. Then insurance companies would have to market their plans to individuals, not corporations, and suddenly paying $600 per month or whatever it is for a small family to go to the doctor a total of seven times in a year doesn’t look so damn good, does it? Buy yourself some cheap catastrophe-only insurance with a high deductible, and wham, you’ve just “lowered your costs.” And the real cost of an actual doctor’s visit would come down too, since the docs would be so happy to have patients who pay cash on delivery rather than cutting through eight layers, minimum, of red tape to get paid less than they charge. You think doctors and hospitals don’t inflate charges because they know the insurance companies won’t pay at that rate anyway? I don’t think that.
I’m no expert in any of these fields; I’ve just been watching what’s going on for a long time and watching Obama attempt to push us off the cliff of socialism. IF they can’t pass socialized medicine, they’ll pass something lesser and expect us to wipe our foreheads and give thanks that we dodged the bullet, Comrade. Don’t do it. Don’t blink. Stand firm and insist that instead of more regulation, they take regulation away. Strip out the tax irregularity that incentivizes employers to “pay” for our medical insurance instead of paying us and letting us get our own. Medical insurance never should have come to this pass; it should be like car insurance, which would never pay to take the car in for an oil change. Deregulate medical insurance and I got your costs savings right here.