I’m just apalled by the health care situation in this country. It’s pretty rare that political issues hit home to me quite so obviously, but we need some kind of real single-payer national healthcare system now. Or, since the “right now” part has already expired while writing this, as soon as bloody possible.
A little over a month ago, I sat through our company’s open enrollment presentation discussing the benefit change for next year. Not many changes, and Guidewire has good benefits (just BTW, in case one of my readers is looking for a job. It’s a cool place to work.) That said, a big part of the presentation was talking about the combination of “High-deductible health plan” and a “Health (Medical?) Savings Account”.
Those seemed like a very broken way of providing health insurance to me, and inspired me to start a post which, until now, I’ve never finished; indeed, my original intent – arguing for single payer, will have to wait. But meanwhile I wanted to share the following news story with you in additional evidence that Bush’s goal, and that of the Republican legislators who were until recently in power, was to “reform” the employer based health care system out of commission completely.
Check this out: (Emphasis below is mine, quoting is selective, and I recommend reading the whole article.)
Bush Insurance Plan Gets Cold Reception
“Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage,” the lawmaker said.
[The proposal] includes a trade-off. Contributions from employers toward health insurance would begin to be treated as taxable income. At the same time, a standard deduction for taxpayers with health insurance would be set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals
Giving a tax break to individuals who pay for their own health insurance, rather than only allowing it if it’s above 7.5% of total income seems only fair to me… after all, those of us who get it through our employers do so through either the employer paying for it untaxed or through a “cafeteria plan” pre-tax deduction. The fair way to allow people to deduct individually paid health insurance would be to do so through one of those special deductions that is separate from one’s regular, itemized deductions (as is done right now with student loan interest.)
Instead, what seems to be being proposed is just plain stupid. Fortunately, I think it is (as noted elsewhere in the article) a non-starter with a Democratic congress, but then again… didn’t the whole health savings account crap start under Clinton? Assuming that the Democratic party is on the right side of this issue ignores just how big a tent the Democratic party is, and how bad the Hillarycare proposal was (I vaguely recall my far-left friends/family calling it “corporate welfare for big insurance companies” at the time.)
If that’s not bad enough, we’ve also got the total fiasco that Governor Schwartzenegger (sp?) is proposing here in California. I’ve not been following that as well as I should, but I’ve been apalled by what I’ve heard so far (how, for example, will the individual requirement to carry health insurance be enforced? Filling the jails?) Calitics has had a good bit of coverage that I need to catch up on.
More to come on this issue, I hope.
Addendum: Here’s a link to the whitehouse fact sheet on the president’s actual proposal. Also mcjoan at Dailykos discusses this further, although with a rather different read on what the proposal means.