Health Care Fix Will Come from Outside Washington

The health care rollout is an enormous political gift that may lead the Republican Party to win control of the Senate in 2014. But as President Barack Obama’s health care law collapses, the GOP should avoid the temptation to promote its own top-down solution as an alternative.


A better approach would be for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to recognize the solutions will not be found in Washington. They’ll be found only when consumers are given choices that put them in charge of their health insurance decision-making.

Fortunately, we do not have to just sit back and wait for Congress to fix this mess. State governments are demanding a say. Most recently, this was highlighted when the president announced a “fix” to get around his “if-you-like-your-insurance-you-can-keep-it” promise. Within hours, the insurance commissioner for the state of Washington rejected the fix. Others followed.

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Sooner or later, many states will allow health insurance policies to be bought across state lines. The increased competition will be good for everyone but the insurance companies.

The most powerful force that will lead us forward, though, is American business owners. We have a system where, despite its faults and challenges, the overwhelming majority of Americans under 65 get health insurance from their employers. Companies recognize it’s a vitally important benefit needed to attract, recruit and retain good workers. If you’re looking to start a business and can’t offer health insurance, you’re going to have a hard time finding employees.

While it’s an attractive benefit, the cost of providing health insurance has been growing dramatically in recent years. This means employers have every incentive to find a practical solution to meet the needs of their workers.

Employees obviously have a lot at stake in this discussion as well. The level of insurance coverage is just one part of their overall compensation plan. Dollars spent on health insurance can’t be offered as wages. Many workers would prefer a less comprehensive insurance plan and bigger paycheck. Others would prefer the opposite. There’s no reason their employers should make that decision for them. (It’s not an appropriate decision for the government or insurance companies to make, either.)

Faced with this reality, employers will search for ways to let their workers choose. Benefits consultants are currently poring over every line in the 2,000 pages of the health care law to find ways for their companies to better serve their workers. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that most large companies are not required to offer the full coverage mandated by Obama under the Affordable Care Act. When the employer mandate finally goes into effect, only 19 million workers will be covered. Companies that self-insure are also exempt from many provisions of the law.

Working within these parameters, we can expect companies to find ways to offer individual workers the choice they want and deserve. They might not make the choice government bureaucrats would make, but workers will make the right choices for themselves and their families.

Also see,

Pragmatic Americans Focus on Reality, not Rhetoric

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