I am at one moment baffled and at another annoyed by all the noise being made about employer-sponsored health insurance in this country.
There are those who would seek to end the widespread system of employer-paid health insurance and shift to a Medicare-for-everyone format.
(Related: A Health Care Way Forward)
As I see it, the employer-paid health insurance program is one of the best forms of profit-sharing going. The people screaming that employer-paid health insurance is bad should instead be out in the streets demanding higher quality benefits.
Coverage to Covet
As a self employed individual for most of my insurance career, I find myself both proud and envious of my son the accountant, my daughter the teacher, and my wife the teacher because of the excellent health insurance plans they are provided at work. The plans also offer dental coverage and disability income coverage and other benefits beside. While my family members pay a small portion of the cost (and I would argue that the only reason that their payment is a good thing is because everyone should have some “skin in the game”) the overall effect of their employer-paid coverage is to give my family members quality health insurance which they… (given their lack of familiarity with the insurance market place), were not forced to purchase on their own but rather were guided into by an employer representative capable of making a good choice based on quality and cost of the product.
I do a lot of work in the Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage space, and much of this happens because people are about to retire. I can tell you that these folks are absolutely shocked to find out how much health insurance actually costs and how much of that cost was absorbed by their soon to be ex-employer.
Why are employers motivated to pay for the cost of their employee’s health insurance? The answer is…because the costs born by the employer are tax deductible. For employees with quality plans, this seeming generosity on the part of the employer is, in fact, a very nice form of profit-sharing.
To pay for health insurance, a company needs to generate enough profits to cover the premium cost.
Obamacare’s Little Problem
So, who is generating the noise against employer-sponsored health insurance, and why are they doing it?
While many people are under the misconception that a Universal Healthcare program would solve a lot of problems, the fact is, that many more problems would be created.
Ever since the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) decided that a massive reform of the health insurance marketplace was needed, the phrase “health care” has started to subtly replace the older phrase of ”health insurance.”
This change was pushed for by the forces that objected to any form of insurance underwriting and who felt that pre-existing condition conditions should be entirely eliminated as a way of denying health insurance to someone.
As a person with pre-existing conditions of my own, I found that this argument resonated with me. Then I started to think (and Obamacare has given me the answer): Once you eliminate the notion of underwriting from health insurance, do people have any reason to maintain healthy habits? The answer is: Look around you. Does everyone look robust and healthy? I think not.