Friday, January 26, 2007

The President's Health Care Proposal

It's too early to get all worked up about the details. After Congress gets through with the plan it has scant chance of being recognizable in it's current form. But the thrust of it is two-fold. First, it uncouples health care from employment and second, it recognizes that those who cannot afford to pay for their own health care, whether through insurance or any other form, are and will remain the problem of the states, not the federal government.

No bloviating here. I will just say that both of these observations, if so, meet with my approval. (Yeah, I know. Everyone was waiting for that. Right.)

Employer-subsidized premiums are not now a taxable benefit to the employee. In fact, thanks to another wrinkle in the system, neither are the employee's co called "contributions." Thanks, Big Insurance Lobby. I wish I had a way to sell a product that had a sure-fire way to make a profit and get it to market with the promise that When you do business with me, all your expenses are tax-deductible.

The White House website splains it all with clarity...

The President's proposed standard deduction for health insurance will help make basic private health insurance more affordable for families and individuals – whether they have insurance through their jobs or purchase insurance on their own. For those who remain unable to afford coverage, the President's Affordable Choices Initiative will help eligible States assist their poor and hard-to-insure citizens in purchasing private health insurance.

That's about all you need to know. The bitter pill that Americans will have to swallow is that the time has come for everybody to start chipping in on health care costs, not just working somewhere where the employer is paying the freight.

The "poor and hard-to-insure citizens" have been with us from Bible days and will not be vanishing from the population. The time has come for the richest society on the planet to come to terms with that fact. There is no easier way to say it.

H/T Fred Clark who has good observations of his own about some of the other presidential proposals.

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