Saturday, March 3, 2012

Health insurance isn't a gift from employers, it's part of an employee's pay

Bob Shearer’s letter “President Obama has violated his oath of office” claims as others who oppose the President that businesses run by religious institutions shouldn’t have to abide by the same rules as everyone else. Shearer seems to think that health insurance provided by employers is some kind of gift when in fact it is a part of the employee’s compensation package.

The reality is that it’s the employee’s work that’s being compensated and the employer is simply a conduit for insurance premiums. The only reason we even have this convoluted system is that for profit insurance companies offer lower rates to larger pools of customers so it’s to the employee’s financial advantage to participate in the employer’s insurance program rather than buy individual coverage at a higher price.

There are two alternatives to this convoluted mess that would resolve Shearer’s concerns if he really wanted to “protect” employers from paying for medical care they found morally objectionable. Option 1 is to do what many advanced countries around the world do and offer single payer government sponsored program. Option 2 is simply require for profit companies to offer the same rates to everyone in a community so that they can’t cherry pick the healthiest people and leave the sickest with the highest bills.

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