Thursday, December 14, 2006

Universal Requirement for Individuals to Purchase Health Insurance

Senator Ron Wyden-D. Oregon introduced a new “universal health care plan”. Business and labor leaders stand squarely behind the proposal dubbed the “Healthy Americans Act”.

The plan would require that employers "cash out" their existing health plans by terminating coverage and paying the amount saved directly to workers as increased wages. Workers then would be required to buy health insurance from a large pool of private plans.

Now I understand the strong business support as employers can finally divorce themselves from that pesky health insurance benefit. Unions must wish to fill the empty seat and negotiate good group rates for their members to purchase.

It appears Mr. Wyden’s plan is simply a requirement for individuals to purchase their own health insurance from a menu of private insurers. Don’t many states have that requirement for automobile liability insurance? My only accident in Texas (which has such a requirement) came due to the fault of an uninsured driver.

What key American beliefs are perpetuated in this package? One, employers need to cut costs which can be accomplished by transferring responsibility for the huge, ever growing health insurance benefit. Two, that private health insurers offer more choice and benefits than traditional government sponsored programs. Never mind private plans ever increasing profit requirements and their nearly double administrative costs.

While some promise exists in Senator Wyden’s plan, it has a long way to go from concept to law with implementing regulations. I for one will be watching to make sure it isn’t another dump on the average citizen and huge profit opportunity for the insurance industry.

Ron Wyden’s Campaign Donation History

2006 Campaign healthcare total $363,326

Health Professionals $154,986
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $88,350
Insurance $60,500
Health Services/HMO’s $59,400

Mr. Wyden would submit any bill to the Senate Finance Committee for approval. This powerful committee will soon be chaired by Senator Max Baucus D-Montana. Max is famous for accepting for-profit hospital donations from companies with no facilities in his state. Who funded Max’s last campaign?

Max Baucus’ Campaign Donation History

2006 Campaign healthcare total $1,504,548

Insurance $467, 834
Health Professionals $379,023
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $219,520
Health Services/HMO’s $167,950
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $270,221

Is Senator Wyden just doing his boss’ bidding in introducing this legislation, guaranteed to profit his benefactors? In today's Congress such a thing could easily happen...

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