A common sense idea regarding health insurance

Prior to jumping down the rabbit hole that is ObamaCare, perhaps we should consider another direction.

End employer-provided health care now. Don't tax it, end it. Company paid health insurance was never a planned policy. It was a response to temporary and artificial restrictions on wages during World War II. Wage controls were in place and companies discovered another method to compete for employees - company paid health insurance. This was deductible by the business as normal operating expenses, something not offered to the individual. We have lived with this monstrosity ever since.

Many problems confronting our health care system can be tied directly to this fateful course. Rather than building on the unintended consequences of this fateful decision of almost 60 years ago, why not attempt to correct the mistake? End the company-provided aspect now. Instead have each and every company pay directly to each employee what they are presently costing the company for health insurance. This will simply be added to each employee's monthly pay.

For the company it is a wash - total costs remain the same. Organizations will jump on this concept because it finally removes the ever increasing burden of providing health insurance to employees. It is impossible to meet every employee's desires regarding their health insurance even in a company with only a couple of employees. People are different and have different needs, desires, and objectives. And as a small business owner, trust me when I say I don't want to hear any more about my employee's very personal health issues. Nor do they relish sharing these with me simply because I'm in the middle of their health insurance. It is insane.

The vast majority of employees will jump at it too since they will see significant increases in their take home pay, also providing a significant boost to the economy at no additional costs. To offset an increase in employee taxes due to this increase in take home pay, perhaps exempt the first thousand dollars in monthly payroll from any and all payroll and income taxes. This helps the working poor and neutralizes these tax consequences.

Government can create a health insurance tax deduction/credit for individuals and families at whatever level they deem fair, thereby creating, in effect, market-driven "national health insurance." Most employees will be able to find their own health insurance which will much better meet their specific needs and still save a considerable amount of money. A win-win for everyone. If government will get out of the way the health insurance marketplace will quickly provide innovative products which will meet every individual's needs. The marketplace works for every other product or service, health insurance is no different. For those few individuals who for whatever reasons cannot find coverage, the government will assist them as is already the situation.

Presently many employees are unwittingly paying thousands of dollars each and every year for services they do not desire... and yes, the reality right now is they are paying it, whether they know it or not. Many waste thousands of dollars every year so they can "save" a few ten's of dollars on an infrequent doctor visit. In some union environments the workers "make" $25 per hour but when benefits are included cost their employer $90 per hour. The cost to the company is the same; why not let the workers pocket this money upfront? I've worked with people across the country and I can assure you if given the choice most would assuredly state, "Give ME the money".


John Conlin is a management consultant and small business owner.

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