The commentary by Ms. Schaefer of The Heritage Foundation published on February 20 is highly misleading about the personal and social benefits of employer-based health insurance coverage, while acknowledging its significant problems in a single paragraph.
Here are the rebuttals of Schaefer’s main points:
1. “More choice and access to medical services” — false! Private insurance plans limit patients to providers enrolled in their organizations and report you surprise bills when care is provided by providers not covered by the plan. Medicare reimbursed all licensed providers.
2. “Testing ground for innovative strategies”, such as the creation of health savings accounts. Yes, great for tax breaks for the well-to-do, while the poor barely survive on minimum wage, so they can’t even think of ‘savings accounts’. Government institutions have often been leaders in innovations such as electronic medical records and quality monitoring.
3. “Price transparency and value-based purchases.” Have you tried reading the stacks of paper you get from your health insurance and figuring out who pays how much for what? In our current medical industry system, competition only means big companies trying to get a sweet slice of the market so they can select members and set prices for their products.
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4. “Cost control” is best with employer-sponsored health plans. Still false. Government programs such as Medicare and the VA system have the lowest general and administrative costs.
Employer-based health insurance plans fall into the trap of unsustainable free market practices. It’s time to ditch them, especially if you think health care is a human right and not a for-profit business.