Over at the newly-launched and timely Recessionwire, the author of the Tyranny of Dead Ideas, Matt Miller, explains why it’s time to kill employer-directed health insurance:
RW: Which Dead Idea do we most urgently need to get rid of?
MM: That’s a tough one, because they’re all urgent. If I had to pick, it would probably be: “Your Company Should Take Care of You.” This idea is out of tune with modern reality, especially now as people are losing their jobs. Each time there’s a job loss, there’s a good chance that someone has either lost their health care or faces COBRA payments they can’t afford. The idea that we leave so many people vulnerable is shameful. Leaving healthcare to employers hurts entrepreneurship because talented people stay in bad jobs. They can’t go out on their own because of concerns about healthcare.
Thank you. With recessions piling up, the need to sever the link between employment and health insurance is more urgent than ever. But don’t expect anything to happen. Obama ran hard on the notion that it’s the “right thing” for employers to pay for their employee health care, even though it’s just a total delusion. Employers only care about the “all-in” cost of an employee, how much they have to pay in total for a worker’s salary, healthcare, gym membership, retirement benefits etc. How they’re distributed between buckets is totally irrelevent. It’s the same delusion behind the idea that the employer “splits” payroll taxes with the employee. Again, it’s all borne by the employee, but it looks like it’s half and half.
In the meantime, maybe we’ll throw a billion at electronic health records. Awesome.