Jumping Into a Bigger Pool

This isn't my usual focus, but I've been getting very frustrated with a topic that has nothing funny about it—health insurance.

In the debate about whether we should move toward a government plan or whether that would just make a bad situation worse, there's been some discussion of "portability," or making health insurance more transferable between employers. To me that doesn't go far enough. I'd like to see health insurance coverage separated from employment altogether.

The whole idea behind insurance is to spread the risk and the cost across a large group of people. The problem with keeping health insurance connected to employment is that in many cases, those groups simply aren't large enough to keep the premium costs down. They become even smaller when you take into account the number of people who don't need coverage from their employers because they have it through their spouses' jobs. And, of course, those like me who are self-employed don't have much choice except expensive individual plans.

Requiring employers to provide health insurance doesn't make any sense for smaller companies, because it doesn't do anything to solve the small pool/large premium problem. (Here is how the current plan before Congress would affect one small business.)

One way to separate insurance coverage from employment could be for the federal government to set up large pools or groups of people that would be covered under one plan. These groups could be regional, but with the technology we have available they wouldn't have to be. Then insurance companies could offer various coverage plans to those groups, perhaps through competitive bids. There would need to be a way for people to transfer easily from one group to another, so family members would be part of the same pool.

I may be missing something here; perhaps there are drawbacks to such a plan that I simply haven't thought of. But I'd certainly like to see it become part of the discussion.

Categories: Money Matters | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Jumping Into a Bigger Pool

  1. Frank

    I can get into a heated debate when I voice my opinion about national health care. We lived in Arizona for 28 winters and have many Canadians and they would not trade their health plan for ours. I know for a fact that they flee home if they have a serious health problem. And they have to take out special insurance when they come to the States, in case they get too sick to move and that is costly. I do not think this administration will get much of a national health care package passed as the medical, drug and insurance companies are sure to lobby hard against it. I told my Norwegian friend I was going to move to Norway when I get old. He says they won’t take me!

  2. Frank

    I can get into a real debate if I voice my opinion about national health care, a bigger pool. Or the biggest pool of all. We lived in Arizona for 28 winters and made friends with a lot of Canadians. They would not trade our medical system for theirs and flee home as fast as they can go if they have a serious health problem. I don’t think this administation can do much about changing the system we have now, with the medical, drug and insurance companies lobbying against it. I told my Norwegian friend I was going to move to Norway when I get old, as they have the best medical system. He said they won’t take me!

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