Lanterns: Health Care Reform - Ask Consumers, Not the 'Experts'


Health Care Reform - Ask Consumers, Not the 'Experts'

According to progressives, health care is a right. But it is no less a commodity like food and housing. The markets for these life-sustaining goods respond to consumer demand. Why doesn't Congress allow the health care market to do the same?

The answer begs a larger discussion of policy and the political class controlling the masses by way of controlling their health care. The average American, however, finds his or her own needs more urgent. It's about what to do if a catastrophe strikes. It's about our day-to-day struggles. It's time to tune out the experts and pundits. We don't need statistics and policy papers. Anecdotal evidence will do just fine, and I am here to pile it on.

My job, complete with benefits and health coverage, was a casualty of the Great Recession. But even with subsequent part-time and low-wage employment, I managed to afford a policy for myself for just over $100 a month. However, I was soon informed that, due to "changes brought by the Affordable Care Act," my policy was no longer available. I was offered the nearest "equivalent" policy for $400 a month. Eventually, I was left with a subsidized Obama-care policy that would pay only under the most catastrophic circumstances. While health insurance need not cover every stubbed toe or insect bite, is it asking too much that a policy kicks in some time before an amputation or open heart surgery?

Fortunately, with hard work and perseverance, even some part-time employers will offer coverage (while you pray that nothing happens before your eligibility date). But therein lies my beef with health insurance in America: why, typically, must we rely on our employers for coverage? I don't expect my employer to provide car insurance or to pay my food bill. I know, employer-provided coverage dates back to at least the 1800's. That subject alone demands its own discussion. But as for me, just give me a fair day's pay for a hard day of work. I'm a grown-up, I can take care of my own needs, thank you very much.

We, in a sense, are slaves to health insurance. How many Americans are stuck in jobs they hate, miserable every day, but unable to quit because they can't afford to lose their health insurance? How many Americans, who rarely go to the doctor, suck it up just to avoid the individual mandate penalty? Like millions out there, I can relate. Note to Congress: make insurance affordable so that we can buy it for ourselves. Barring that, make it portable, give us health savings accounts that we can take from one job to another.

Deregulate the health coverage industry. Make insurers compete for our dollars. Fill the airwaves with cheesy, annoying commercials for health care and insurance. Consumers want policies tailored to their individual circumstances, free of ACA regulations that force coverage for services some of us will never need.

Our gripe here is not just government regulation. American workers are tired of being beholden to our employers. We're exasperated with jumping through hoops, desperate for plans that are both practical and affordable. But yes, we are fed up with politicians who make health care reform harder than it has to be. 

It takes guts and perseverance to survive in the working world. Is it too much to ask that the business and political elites show a little on our behalf? Fulfill your promises - reform health care. Grant consumers the choice and mobility they deserve. If health care qualifies as a right, the freedom to not be bound to oppressive employment, bureaucratic red tape, and needless expenses should qualify as equally sacred.

Written by David Bozeman

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