Sunday, August 18, 2019

Health insurance: Employer provided insurance is no gem

While many are aghast that single-payer health insurance or Medicare for All advocated by several Democratic candidates would require you to give up your employer-provided insurance, employer insurance is not the gem many think it is. Health care costs have risen, but employer contributions to health insurance have not.  Employees are paying more and more out of pocket.  However, I still believe consumers want a choice of their providers, whether it be employer-provided or offered by the government or private companies.  The problem is that to make a cost comparison among all three or even to make an informed choice is difficult or impossible. Trump and the GOP's plan to repeal Obamacare would even remove that option, leaving millions with no insurance whatsoever.  As this article points out, the real problem is the rising cost of health care and little is being done to bring down costs. Prescription drug costs are key, but even that which has had bi-partisan support cannot surmount Congressional gridlock.  The choice between unaffordable providers is no choice.  There is currently no competition to force providers to become more efficient or cost-effective.  A government public option and requiring competitive bidding for provider formularies, including Medicaid and Medicare, might at least provide incentives for providers to lower their own administrative costs and accept lower margins if they want to survive.  The Obamacare method of giving you a choice of private plans was supposed to provide a degree of competition, but it was never designed to be the whole plan.  Politics forced the Obama administration to drop the government-regulated, nonprofit public option that would have provided a greater measure of competition.  Private health provider company lobbyists did not want the competition, but now they may be faced with even the elimination of private health insurance that is threatened by some candidates.    In their greed, they may have planted the seeds of their own self-destruction.

Update: Not available to Grand County consumers, yet, but for government employees:

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