Monday, December 15, 2008

The Problem of the "Unemployed and Uninsured"

What is the answer to the problem of people who lose their jobs simultaneously losing their health insurance? According to Marie Cocco;

“Only a single, government-financed system can eliminate the administrative waste, unfairness and economic burden of our current health insurance scheme.”

I posted the following sharp rebuttle to her article.

I must have sent shudders down Ms. Cocco’s spine, who apparently can’t imagine people actually taking personal responsibility for their own lives.

There is no word about people losing their homeowners insurance due to loss of a job. Or life insurance. Or car insurance. I wonder why.

The answer to the problem Ms. Cocco frets about is hidden in plain sight. Our absurd and unjust government-imposed third-party-payer system of health insurance should be abolished. There are multiple causes for the current healthcare crisis...all of them due to massive government interference in our semi-socialized hodgepodge. (Advances in medical treatment and living longer are only a "problem" in the mind of a bean-counting bureaucrat in a government-controlled system.)

But in regards to this one piece of the crisis, the solution begins with shifting all tax preferences to the individual through some version of HSAs. (These preferences include payroll, not just income, taxes). The money spent by third-party-payers (business, labor unions, etc.) would simply be deposited into the worker's HSA every year. The employee could then buy the policy best suited to his and his family's own needs, values, and budget, and keep the balance for out-of-pocket expenses, savings, or other health-related purposes. Or he could still participate in a group plan...but that would be his choice. Those currently without employer-paid insurance could, of course, still direct a portion of their earnings into an HSA. The insurance being his, rather than some third party spending his earnings (employer-paid insurance is purchased with the employee's money, since that is part of his compensation package), there would be no automatic loss of benefits due to job change or loss. Just this one simple reform would be a tremendous relief to all employees and their families, who would have enough to deal with due to loss of a job. It gives them the ability to plan long range in regards to their health needs, and likely would encourage more employers to contribute to HSAs.

I'm always amazed at how breezily and flippantly people such as Ms. Cocco can suggest totalitarian control of so vital an industry as medicine. No need to be concerned with the individual rights...of doctors and other healthcare professionals...or the producers of life-enhancing drugs and other medical products...or of any citizen who may not want to be forced into a government-run system. Simply impose a healthcare dictatorship at gunpoint...i.e., by legislative force. No muss, no fuss, and no "administrative costs".

The choice we face in healthcare is either rewarding the cause of the crisis, the government, with total control...or turning to a free market, which is based on the rights of the individual. Ending the current third-party-payer system is just one part of the solution. A massive rollback of government controls is vital here. Protection of individual rights to life, liberty, and property, which includes strong anti-fraud laws and enforcement of contracts, is the only proper role for government.

The choice we face is either a free market or a slave "market".

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