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Health Insurance Reform: What Families Should Know


Freedom of Choice

Most American businesses operate in something closely resembling a free market: Consumers are free to pick and choose goods and services. Thus, consumers have the ultimate say about what succeeds and what fails in sectors such as cars; fashion; music; restaurants; and financial services; as well as in other areas of insurance, such as auto, life, and homeowners insurance. Yet, this fundamental principle is absent from the health insurance market in the following ways:

Limited Choice. Free market forces, driven by consumer decision-making, do not operate in America's private health insurance system. Soon after World War II, Congress made changes to the tax code that tied a patient's access to health insurance to his or her employer. Under the current legal regime, the employer buys a worker's health plan, determining what it will cover and how much it will cost. The key decisions are made by employers, not patients.

No Portability of Coverage. In the current system, the worker pays for the health insurance policy (which is part of his compensation), but the employer owns it. Therefore, workers cannot take their policies with them if they change jobs. Even if it offers the same package of benefits, buying a health insurance policy outside of work can cost up to 50 percent more than getting it through an employer. The lack of a tax benefit puts the cost of individual health insurance out of reach for many people.

Federal Steps to Expand Choice

Congress should consider the following steps for expanding personal choice and portability in health care coverage:

* Create a federal health care tax credit that offers the same tax benefit for buying health insurance on the individual market that is currently available only for buying through an employer.
* Allow people to own their own health insurance, without a tax or regulatory penalty, which would allow them to keep it no matter where or whether they work. This would enable individuals and families to carry their coverage from job to job without changing their health care policy. This would mean true portability in coverage.
* Remove statutory prohibitions and any tax or regulatory penalties that apply when individuals and families want to buy health insurance sold in another state.
State Steps to Expand Choice

Reviewing and Repealing State Mandates. State mandates are laws that require insurance policies to cover specific benefits or medical services. Nationwide, there are almost 2,000 state-legislated health insurance mandates. Some of them are ethically objectionable or controversial. In vitro fertilization, for instance, is mandated in 13 states; contraceptives, in 30. State officials should identify and repeal costly, outdated, unnecessary, or ethically objectionable or controversial benefit and provider mandates.

I cut out a large part of the article.  This is only a portion of the original.

Good info, Thanks.. :cheersmate:


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