NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A PRESCRIPTION THAT WORKS: HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

March 29, 2005

Companies are designing health plans that subtly encourage job applicants who need more health care to seek employment elsewhere, writes Cheryl Hall of the Dallas Morning News.

Plans attract healthy workers and dissuade those who are sick (or who are prone to sickness) in a variety of ways:

  • New hires must wait longer for medical coverage than longstanding employees; for example, store-level employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. now have to wait six months (up from three) before they can get medical help on the company's plan.
  • Hospital visits and major surgery come with very high deductibles.
  • Low co-payments for routine check-ups, visits to general practitioners, and outpatient services.

Some employers even use covert tactics to identify and then dissuade applicants with chronic illness, telling them that they wouldn't be happy under the company's health plan.

John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis does not condone the practice, but appreciates it has become a necessity to stay competitive: "If you're an employer and want a healthy workforce with as few problems as possible, have a health plan that is only attractive to healthy people. It is not rocket science."

Goodman's solution to health care is health savings accounts. These plans would be similar to 401(k)s: employers would set up and fund them, but employees would own and keep the policies as they move through the labor market.

Source: Cheryl Hall, "Health Insurance You Take With You," Dallas Morning News, March 27, 2005.

 

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