National Health Insurance and Your Business
The Health Care Debate
By Bill Willard
The Issue: Many of the millions of Americans without health insurance are small-business employees and the self-employed. That’s one reason so many voters rank health care reform as a pressing concern facing policymakers this election year. Neither presumptive presidential candidate has a deep understanding of health care matters, but relying on advisors, they have served up health care proposals reflecting their parties’ philosophic persuasions:
- Obama’s plan to cover uninsured Americans: Obama will make a new national health plan available to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, similar to the plan available to members of Congress. Included among the Obama plan features are: guaranteed eligibility; affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles; subsidies for those not qualifying for Medicaid; simplified paperwork and cost control; easy enrollment; portability and choice.
- McCain believes the key to health care reform is restoring patient control. He wants a health care system in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care he or she needs. Health care should be available to all, not limited by where you work or how much you make. In short, Americans should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over their health care.
Though states can be counted on to add their own bells and whistles, the candidates’ basic approaches will be pitted against each other in the general election.
The question is: Which is best for small-business owners and the self-employed?
NFIB Small-Business Health Care Principles
For an answer, we turn to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the non-profit small-business lobbying association representing the views of small and independent businesses in Washington and all 50 states. To influence the national health care reform debate, NFIB recently issued a set of health care principles—recapped below–that would work best for small-business people.
NFIB: Our current system of health insurance and health care is financially unsustainable and threatens the health and financial security of the American people. Small-business owners and their employees are especially vulnerable to the weaknesses of our current system. NFIB supports policy reforms to balance the competing goals of access to quality care, affordability, predictability, and consumer choice. The resulting health care system would be:
Universal: Americans should have access to quality care and protection against catastrophic costs — A government safety net, not a government-run, single-payer system.
Private: Americans should receive health insurance and health care through the private sector. Governmental safety nets should not crowd out private insurance and care.
Affordable: Health care costs to individuals, providers, governments and businesses must be reasonable, predictable and controllable.
Unbiased: Health care and tax laws should not push Americans into employer-provided or government-provided insurance programs that hobble the market for individually purchased policies. Small employers should be treated the same as large employers, who can already pool across state lines. A system built on employer mandates is unacceptable.
Competitive: Consumers should be able to choose among insurers and providers. Policymakers need to do away with state limitations and treatment mandates that restrict competitiveness.
Portable: Americans should be able to move throughout the United States and change jobs without losing health plans.
Transparent: All parties should have access to user-friendly information on costs, quality and outcomes. Providers must be able to obtain relatively complete medical histories of patients. But patient privacy must be protected.
Efficient: Health care policy should encourage appropriate levels of health care spending. Laws, regulations and insurance arrangements should direct health care spending to goods and services that maximize health. Adequate risk pools throughout the health care system are key to accomplishing those goals.
Evidence-based: The health care system must encourage consumers and providers to accumulate evidence and to use that evidence to improve health. Appropriate treatment choices and better wellness and preventive care should be key outcomes.
Realistic: Health care reform should proceed as rapidly as possible, but not so quickly that firms and individuals cannot adjust prudently. It is important to ensure that no one’s quality of care suffers as we move to provide coverage for all Americans.
Want to learn more about NFIB’s efforts to improve access to quality, affordable health care? Visit www.NFIB.com/healthcare.
Summing up: To small-business owners with their employees, providing health care is an employer’s obligation. The catch? Affordability.
Most employees have no idea what their employers pay for healthcare (and shame on employers for not sharing that information). But they correctly view employer-sponsored health care as indispensable, and would skip pay raises rather than lose it.
What I Think: With its emphasis on restoring patient control over costs and coverage, John McCain’s health care proposal makes the most sense for small-business owners and employees.
What Do You Think? Your comments are welcome. Have you registered?
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Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater FL. He has been a high-impact writer and editor for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes ghostwriting and editing for businesses of all types and sizes, professional practitioners and individuals, and is a www.thefreestyleentrepreneur.com Contributing Author. Visit his Website: www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
Or contact him at email@example.com.
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