The Most Interesting Thing I've Ever Read About Health Care

I’m not going to get into the health care debate. In fact, I’m not even going to write much today (with all the comments I get on the Confessions posts, I should write them every day! But I don’t have that many confessions. Or do I…)

However, I read something the other day in Inc Magazine (Nov. ’09) that was the most interesting thing I’ve ever read about health care. It’s a quote from the CEO of a company called Senior Whole Health named John Baackes. He’s talking about how our current health care structure (your company pays for your health care, which isn’t considered “salary”) came to be, pretty much by accident:

The fact that we have employers central to our system is the biggest problem. And it exists this way all because of a historical accident. During WWII, companies couldn’t raise wages to attract workers, so they began offering health insurance. The IRS then determined companies could consider that a business expense rather than counting it toward personal income.

So…this entire imperfect institution is based off of a business tax deduction that started 70 years ago?! This is news to me.

Here’s my solution: Give everyone in the country a raise equal to the amount their company pays for their health care. Drop their business’s health care plan. Mandate that everyone in the country purchase some form of health care (or raise taxes and just give everyone health care).

So, say for example (this is purely hypothetical–I would never discuss actual salary or health care information, and I mean that) that I make $25,000 a year. My company spends, say, $5,000 on my health care a year. So as of January 1, I get a $5,000 raise. In the now-competitive, capitalistic health care market, I can purchase my own health care plan that fits a person like me who gets sick no more than two times a year and wants to have protection for big catastrophes, and I can keep the remainder to pay my bills and mortgage.

Bam! Problem solved.

(Now tell me why this won’t work. But don’t tell me that quote isn’t interesting. It’s damn interesting.)