Why not uncouple health insurance from employment?

President Obama has the healthcare train barreling down the tracks loaded with promises of health insurance for all and no knowledge of the tracks that lie ahead. He has hired Congress to stoke its engine with the wealth of the American people, while burning through trillions of dollars on other efforts to nationalize the private sector.

If real healthcare reform is what the President desires, there is a better way to make health insurance affordable than socializing 15% of the US economy.

One solution has hardly passed the lips of a single politician in Washington. Uncouple health insurance from employment by creating an insurance free market.

Linking health insurance with employment never made any sense. Employers began to widely offer health insurance only after Richard Nixon introduced wage and price controls in 1970. His effort to control inflation by capping wages forced employers to offer fringe benefits instead of higher salaries. When wage indexation finally ended health insurance was inextricably linked to employment.

For the 60% of Americans who receive insurance through their employer, it may seem like an odd idea to unhitch the two, but it makes more sense than you think.

Americans do not clamor for their employers to provide auto insurance even though they drive to work. Nor do they expect the boss to provide food, shelter, and clothing. That is what salaries are for.

Just as there is a competitive market for auto insurance, housing, groceries, and everything else Americans want or need there should be a similar market for health insurance.

If health and auto insurance were sold in a similar way, individuals and families would be free to choose a plan that covered their specific needs and fit their budget. The Cadillac plan in health insurance would cost more than the Hyundai plan.

And, just as auto insurance costs less for those with a good driving record, health insurance rates would be based on an individual’s physical health. Risky behaviors would increase prices while healthy behavior would lower them.

Currently, the health insurance industry is the most heavily regulated sector of the economy. This drives up prices while driving down quality and affordability.

If the government wanted to continue providing health insurance for those unwilling or unable to provide insurance for themselves, the American taxpayer would feel the hit in his wallet a little less because Uncle Sam could also purchase more affordable insurance in a free market.

Purchasing health insurance like we purchase auto insurance would benefit every American and would keep the nation’s healthcare system from hurtling off the tracks.

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