Health insurance reform
An insurance industry spokesman acknowledged in a public press release this month that health coverage in this country needs to be reformed, and offered a band-aid suggestion to improve coverage for the 47 million people who do not have it. Apparently acting in response to the dozen or so states who are making dramatic reforms that might ultimately make health insurers irrelevant and the growing movement toward universal health coverage, the industry is suggesting minor reforms that would improve the ability of some individuals to buy or maintain coverage. In most cases, the industry's proposed response is to require states to subsidize coverage for expensive individuals or to require healthy individuals to purchase coverage that will underwrite other, more expensive [usually older] insureds.
While there may be a need for the latter forms of response, frankly, we don't see why a third-party health insurer need be involved at all: the presence of third-party insurers merely imposes an enormous administrative cost and interference between the payors and service providers. We think the smartest thing that has been said on this topic lately was John Edwards' frustrated claim that "the American health care system is broken because wealthy insurance corporations and their lobbyists have rigged the system against the American people."
With the cost of health coverage for a family running in the neighborhood of $1500.00 per month, per family, the assumption of employer-provided health coverage is becoming a myth for many and an anchor on the few employers who are struggling to preserve coverage. Something must be done before the cost of coverage strangles all American employers who must add this $20,000 dollar annual expense to the cost of products which must compete in the international market. Not long ago, a major auto manufacturer moved its new plant from Detroit out of the U.S., in order to assure that a foreign government would cover the cost of health care: it moved the new plant accross the Detroit River to Windsor, eliminating another few thousand middle class jobs from the Michigan and American economies.