Thursday, November 01, 2007

Power to the people

Why do we ask our employers to provide health insurance as a part of our compensation? Think about it a minute, it’s so entrenched in our minds that it’s hard to imagine getting a full time career-type job that did not include at least some health benefits, but I ask---why do we expect our employers to purchase health care coverage for us? Look around your company, do you need the same kind of health insurance that the 55 year old woman down the hall needs? Or the 22 year old single man that races motorcycles on the weekend, should you have the same health insurance simply because you work in the same physical location? Even worse, why would we want the gov't, state, local or federal to handle our healthcare services?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we collectively agreed that instead of asking my employer to “give” me this perk or that perk, dental insurance, short term disability, health insurance, etc…which isn’t a gift at all, it’s simply money that they spend on me to pay for these perks that they could have otherwise given me in the form of a pay increase…wouldn’t it be amazing if we all cut the umbilical cord and said, “Mr./Mrs. HR guy/gal. I would like to know approximately how much it costs to provide me my benefit package. I am going to decline coverage, and in exchange for declining coverage I would like to request a pay increase by 75% percent of that amount.”
I will then go out and find my own health insurance, determine what I want my own coverage to be, decide what I think is comfortable for deductibles, and prescription benefits, etc…
There is a precedent for this. We all require homeowner’s insurance, (if you own a home) and automobile insurance if you drive a car, but we don’t expect our employer’s to group us together and buy that for us as a perk…we shop for the best deal and decide for ourselves. And there are lot's of companies vying for our individual business.
Health insurance could work the same way, and already does work the same way for the self-employed, or the commission only sales people, and if millions of more consumers flooded the market looking for the best deal, prices would drop, consumers would actually have a reason to be price sensitive and shop for the best deal and begin to treat healthcare services like any other services. Doctors and hospitals would compete for our business, and we could all make our healthcare decisions based on our own criteria, instead of letting an HMO network decide for us who we will see, who will treat us.
We already have the best healthcare system in the world. If we allow our federal, state and local governments to take more and more control of it by attempting to universally insure the populace, we take away any financial controls and incentives for the market to innovate. If, instead, we unleash 100 million people to go and act in their own best interest, choose the services/coverage that they think is best for them, then we all benefit.


Blogger Leigh Lear said...

The problem with your theory is that I doubt Joe Schmo, that works down at Taco Bell makes enough even with a 75% raise to cover even the cheapest insurance. And FYI, those self employed folks, like ourselves are at risk everyday of being kicked off insurance because we might actually get sick. I would also not qualify the US as having the best healthcare system, when there are millions of people uninsured. I believe Europe has the right idea insure the masses governmentally then the doctors can do their job and save lives instead of prescribing a medicine just because the big pharmicutical companies say it's the best one to use and oh by the way we'll give you this awsome new wing in your hospital if you do.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous JW said...

Hear, hear. Your plan is great if you are in good health and have plenty of time on your hands to shop around for the best deal. I daresay most of us do not.
I enjoy the security that comes with collectively bargaining for our insurance. My insurance company is less likely to screw me if they stand to lose the whole company's business.

10:58 PM  
Blogger djobe said...

thanks for your comments---I know my idea is not going to be popular and there are lot's of people who would not want to upset the status quo...but thanks for reading!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Lynne said...

If an employee (at my place of employment) declines insurance coverage for him/herself, we do actually pay him/her the equivalent of our cost in his/her salary. So your thoughts aren't that far-fetched.


12:04 PM  

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