A Health Care Fix For the 1950s!


Here's a summary of the CBO's latest assay of the Senate's health-care reform plan:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan budget-keeper, found that the approximately 18 million people who buy insurance on the individual market and qualify for new income-based tax subsidies would see their costs fall by more than half; the 14 million people who don't qualify would see their costs jump 10 to 13 percent.

The CBO also found that people who get their insurance coverage through an employer or large group plan—about 70 percent of Americans—would see premium prices remain the same or fall by up to 3 percent. It based its estimates on what premiums would look like in 2016, and warned they are rough estimates.

More here. Got that? Lots of tax subsidies for 18 million Americans (but that won't increase government spending, will it?) and massive hikes for 14 million folks (tough luck). And the large majority of Americans who get job-based health care will want to stay pat because through the magic of something-or-other, their premiums will not go up or might even fall a bit.

Wasn't reform supposed to de-link health care from work? Doesn't everyone recognize work-based health care as an unintended side effect of World War II-era wage and price controls? A massive distortion of compensation? Yup, and de-linking health care and work is all the more pressing issue if reports of a structural shift to temp work is really underway:

[The] surge in temporary workers is not only good news for the economy, it's the future of the 21st century labor market. If Washington wants to jump start job growth for the 3.5 million white-collar workers who have lost jobs in this recession, it should start by scrapping the outdated legal and regulatory hurdles to temporary work.

Yet health care reform gives a cold shoulder to independent contractors:

A huge barrier to temporary employment for professionals who prefer to work this way is their inability to access group health coverage outside the permanent employment setting. Though Congress may pass health reform this year, the new insurance exchanges that would remedy this problem won't come into play until at least 2013. Congress should allow temporary workers to buy into the congressional health plan until then.

More here.

Reason.tv looked at the Whole Foods approach to health care: