John C. Goodman

"If you like your health insurance you can keep it," Barack Obama promised the voters on many occasions.

About 20,000 part-time employees of Home Depot recently found out how false that promise is. The company announced that it is ending its health insurance coverage for its employees and sending them to the new health insurance exchanges.

They will be joined by employees of McDonald's, Disney, CVS Caremark, Staples, Blockbuster, and many others.

A lot of these employers have mini med plans with limited coverage. McDonald's, for example, has a plan that limits health insurance benefit to $2,000 but gives employees the option to pay a higher premium and get $3,000 or $4,000 of coverage. At Home Depot, the coverage reaches $5,000. The state of Tennessee, under TennCare, used mini med plans with a $25,000 annual cap on benefits.

Mini med plans typically have no deductible. They usually charge a modest copayment for physician visits and drugs. But if a McDonald's employee goes into a hospital, the co-insurance rate is 30% and the plan's benefit cap will probably be blown right through after the first 30 minutes of admission.

These plans are being abolished under ObamaCare and if the employees end up in one of the new health insurance exchanges they will get subsidized insurance that will look very different. For one thing, the premium the employee pays will double and for many it will more than double. Then they will face, say, a $1,500 deductible for individual coverage. Surprisingly, if the employee goes into a hospital he faces a 20% copayment (comparable to the mini med plans!), but the total out of pocket exposure is limited to $2,250.

Now, which of these plans is better? For the orthodox health policy community, this isn't even a serious question. That's because they live in neighborhoods and associate with people who would never even consider buying mini med coverage. And, remember, imposing one's worldview on others is 90% of what liberalism is all about.

But would you be surprised to learn that there are many people who would find the mini med plan more attractive?


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."