For Real Reform, We Have To Kill Employer-Provided Healthcare Coverage Altogether

The Trump administration recently moved to allow employers to opt-out of including coverage for birth control and contraception in their health insurance plans.

The issue has gone back and forth for years, including a trip to the Supreme Court in a case named after its primary plaintiff, Little Sister of the Poor. In that instance, an order of Catholic nuns objected on religious grounds to a mandate that required its health insurance plans to include coverage for services that their religion forbids.

Killing employer-provided healthcare is the solution to divisive social tensions

This is a classic case of Republicans and Democrats talking past each other while neither side focuses on the real issue.

Democrats insist that your boss shouldn’t have any say in your medical treatments or choice to use birth control, and that’s not an unreasonable position. Republicans insist that religious freedom requires employers not be required to violate the tenets of their faith. That is also reasonable.

The solution is simple: Employers shouldn’t be providing health insurance in the first place. The American system of employer-provided coverage is an artifact of wage and price controls during World War II, and is kept in place only by a mixture of mandates and subsidies.

We don’t expect employers to make our mortgage payments, or pick our car insurance, or decide which grocery store we can shop at. That’s what they pay us for: You get the money, you can then go spend it however your please.

Health insurance should work the same way, and there’s no reason it couldn’t.

The health marketplace is crippled by tax policies supporting employer-provided healthcare

Currently the individual marketplace for insurance is crippled because individuals aren’t eligible to claim the same tax subsidies that employers can. The government is putting its thumb on the scale and pushing heavily in favor of employer-provided coverage.

The result is a system that disempowers employees and gives additional leverage to employers.

The effect on labor mobility is hard to overstate. People fear losing their jobs because it means the instant loss of their healthcare coverage. And it puts employers in the unnecessary position of being involved in their employee’s personal healthcare decisions.

It’s time to ditch this flawed and broken model once and for all. Let employees purchase their own health insurance, and claim all of the tax benefits and subsidies that currently go to employer-provided care. Get employers out of the health insurance business altogether.

(Photo of pro-Obamacare repeal sign via Wikipedia.)


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