E. Klein on (Sens) Wyden-Bennett Health Care Proposal

This is interesting.

Wyden (D-OR) and Bennett (R-UT).

Very radical middle-ish sounding:

Our employer-based health system is a costly mistake, the outgrowth of World War II-era wage and price controls and tax breaks that let newly flush employers shield their profits in benefits and escape taxation on health spending. Even today, employer spending on health care is tax deductible, while individual spending is not. It’s terrifically distorting, locking individuals into jobs they don’t want and stifling entrepreneurship, burdening corporations with duties they shouldn’t assume, and vastly increasing their power over employees. General Motors, after all, is a car company. They make cars. Who decided it should be in the health-care business, too? And if their employee decides to set off and make a better car, do we really want his plans foiled because he can’t interrupt his daughter’s dental care?

Rather than patching up the employer-based system and offering alternatives that individuals would maybe migrate toward, as both Clinton’s and Obama’s plans do, Wyden-Bennett end the employer-based system. They force employers to account for every dime and dollar they spend on employee health care and, the year after the bill’s passage, redirect that cash into employee paychecks. So if your employer is spending $7,000 a year for your health insurance, your paycheck gets a $7,000 boost as soon as their bill passes. You have the money they spent on your health care, but you are no longer dependent on them for that health care.

Under the Wyden-Bennett system, health dollars would be controlled by the individual (a long-time conservative goal) and used within a restructured, heavily regulated, totally universal, insurance marketplace (a longtime liberal goal). Each state would create Health Help Agencies, who would provide easy access to insurance products, along with information, guidance, and advice on how to choose. Insurers would have to meet a minimum standard for comprehensiveness (equivalent to the standard Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan currently offered to members of Congress), and they could not discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, occupation, genetic information, gender or age. Nor could they deny insurance to those who ask for it. In return, every American would have to buy health insurance, and there would be hefty subsidies for those further down the income ladder.

Published in: on February 16, 2008 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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