Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bush Spotlighted on Health Care

Just as a deer freezes under a bright light, so does President Bush when it comes to health care. In 2002 he offered the tonic of health savings accounts for the ills of the nation’s health care system. The introduction of market forces would reduce demand and increase supply. Yet nearly 5 years later the patient is sicker than ever with some 47 million people uninsured.

Now frozen in place under the glare of an angry electorate, he offers the one strategy sure to be as successful in reducing the legions without insurance as HSA’s. It is tax credits! The egalitarian Bush said “When it comes to health care, everyone should get the same tax breaks.”

What’s the basis for his strategy? Experts say our tax policy is contributes to the increase in spending through incentives that favor more comprehensive and expensive health benefits. Incentives that favor? Huh? What world do these experts live in?

How many people have gotten a better health insurance plan the last 15 years? Who has experienced less premium sharing, lower deductibles, and reduced co-pays? Virtually nobody has gotten a sweeter health plan with more comprehensive and expensive health benefits.

Who is the President trying to help with his proposals? Two groups benefit, employers and health insurance companies. Employers want to transfer responsibility for their most expensive, aggravating employee benefit. The Bush plan greases the skids for employees to pick up/buy their own insurance. The employer or unions would become the group purchaser.

Health insurors are the second group salivating over the President’s plan. Five million new insureds could quickly fatten a number of those companies’ bottom lines. With individual policies coming in at roughly half the cost of the $7,500 tax break, how long will it take for the average to magically rise to that same level? Not long. Ironically, insurers will load up policies with more comprehensive and expensive benefits in order to charge the same amount as the government tax deduction.

Bush’s policy will do the opposite of its promise. However that isn’t unusual…

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