U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to deny a number of Catholic charities exemptions from guidelines requiring coverage of contraceptives to serve as creditable group health insurance plans is “a natural outgrowth of the nation’s current employer-based health care system,” Heartland Institute Vice President and C-FIRE Director Eli Lehrer writes in the Feb. 6 edition of Investor’s Business Daily.
This state of affairs could be remedied by increasing personal responsibility for health care by divorcing health benefits from workplaces. Maybe employer-based health care made sense when many workers spent a lifetime with the same company. But it’s certainly not a good way to run things in an economy where workers expect to change jobs frequently and many companies, even big ones, tend to have transitory existences.
If employer-provided health plans were taxed as compensation and the government’s role limited to some sort of near-universal income and age-related “premium support” — the type of system I’d favor — individuals would be free to follow their own moral compasses in selecting health care plans. With the great majority of employers having nothing to do with health care, none would have to subsidize anything it disagreed with.