The president's proposal, which allows deductibility of health insurance premiums, has a hidden "sneak-a-tax." Under the Bush plan, if your employer pays more than $15,000 for your annual health insurance premium, you pay tax on the excess coverage. Below that amount for a typical family, the plan provides only small, non-game-changing savings. Worse, the plan is not indexed to inflation. When inflation eventually catches up to the $15,000 deduction, families will suffer the same tax penalties posed by the Alternative Minimum Tax.
HSAs are another concept that was supposed to "move us in the right direction" of more affordability and accessibility of health insurance. HSAs have worked for many, but way too slowly as health care costs and insurance premiums have increased at annual double digit percentages.
The socialists among us object to universal choice because they fundamentally believe that government can spend people's hard-earned money better than the person who earned it. The bureaucrats object to universal choice because it would force them to cut wasteful spending to "offset" the "lost" revenue from allowing the deduction. That's political speak for "our job is to continue to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic."
Even with universal choice, the liberals will still scream about the 47 million people who do not have health care. They will ignore the 63 percent of the uninsured who work for small businesses that cannot afford health insurance coverage because the costs keep rising faster than their profits. Conservatives ought to counter with the 253 million people who have private health insurance that four of the presidential front runners want to take away.
As I stated on an NBC health care special in 1994, if you have a leak in the roof of a building and you know that the roof is leaking, you don’t blow up the building to fix the leak in the roof. That's what total government control would do to our health care system. The system will work if government would get out of the way. We don't have to blow up the system to fix a few leaks.
Universal deductibility would stimulate universal choice, which would fix the leak in our health care system's roof while making the building stronger.
The free market system, in which the consumer has access to information, choices and his own money, has driven down the prices of all goods and services that government has not overregulated or over-controlled. With a simple change in the current tax code to eliminate discriminatory deductibility for health insurance and eventually health care costs, free market dynamics can solve another problem that Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Romney want to make worse.
Universal choice in health care is a choice the public must demand. Otherwise, they will have to live with the disease of socialized health care.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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