NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 31, 2006

The percentage of workers with employer-based coverage continues to decline, contributing to the total rise in the number of uninsured, says Nina Owcharenko, senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

The decline in employer-based coverage is a result of a changing workforce, says Owcharenko. Fewer people stick with one job or work for one employer throughout their careers. Meaning with each job change, health care plans change. Fewer employers, especially small business owners, can afford to offer coverage.

But ignoring the trends and the millions of uninsured workers won't solve the problem. The uninsured do get medical care, but it places a costly and inefficient burden on taxpayers.  And expanding government-run health care programs, like Medicaid won't help either.  Public programs are already overextended and fiscally unsustainable.

To fill in the gaps in the current system and prevent more workers from joining the ranks of the uninsured, an alternative for those who don't have employer-based coverage needs to be created. A system of health care tax credits would give uninsured workers a tax break, similar to the one given for employer-based coverage, to purchase private health care coverage of their own.  Such a system would offer many benefits, says Owcharenko:

  • Those who own their coverage can take their plan with them when they change jobs or quit working.
  • They can choose the plan and doctors and services they want.
  • Insurers and providers must be accountable to them, not to their employer or government bureaucrats.

The status quo in health care coverage is not acceptable, says Owcharenko.  But these trends will continue until Congress comes to grips with the changing dynamics of the health insurance market.

Source: Nina Owcharenko, "Abandon employer-based health care plans," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 31, 2006.


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