Monday, August 5, 2013
EMPLOYER PROVIDED HEALTHCARE?
How did an employee benefit originally begun as a means to employ and retain top notch employees evolve into a mandatory cost of doing business for all employers? When did employers agree to become the caretakers of the health care needs of the country? Furthermore why should they?
It all began as a competitive offering benefiting the high achievers in their chosen fields, which mushroomed into a companywide benefit thanks to the intervention of government in decreeing that any benefit offered to one employee must be offered to all employees. "Thank you once again government interference." One of the incentives to excel was systematically taken away by a government regulation. Now instead of working diligently in order to attain the status required to receive these benefits, a person could just coast along on the coat tails of the achievers. Two things were thus accomplished; there was no further reward for success while mediocrity was equally rewarded. We wonder why productivity in our country has stalled. I contend that were it not for the advent of computers, robots etc which do not require additional costs for health benefits we would be frozen in a period of zero gain productivity.
Now we have come full circle. We have regulated ourselves back to a period where employers having been forced to include the ever increasing cost of employee healthcare in their operating budgets, when given the opportunity have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Under current regulations, it is less expensive for them to pay the comparatively insignificant fines than to provide healthcare for anyone. It also has provided companies with an incentive to change their operating plans to include more part time labor thus eliminating any costs whatsoever. "Thank you once again government interference".
Perhaps it's time for individuals and families to once again take responsibility for their healthcare needs. If we were to eliminate all government regulations, (aka interference in the free market system) don't you believe that competition among insurance companies, healthcare providers, and drug manufacturers would substantially lower our overall healthcare costs. For the truly needy for whom healthcare is not affordable, healthcare could be subsidized to some degree, though not entirely, through a pool of some sort provided by competing insurance companies. Perhaps some sort of health savings account with a higher deductible for affordability. Whatever we do the current state of affairs is a non-starter. We need to take the politics out of healthcare and turn it back over to the professionals in that field. We can no more operate a healthcare system than we can a post office or student loan program to name a few. Time to send the politicians back home forcing them work electronically, and while we are at it, enact some term limits, eliminate the perks and turn our government back over to the people. A little tort reform would be very high on my wish list also. We can return to the past when America was a productive, innovative and dynamic world leader before we became so full of ourselves.