Posted by: danielrashke | June 19, 2009

And the beat goes on…

The headlines are appearing at a frenetic pace.  “Array of Taxes Considered for Overhaul,” “Senate Finance Members Look for Ways to Shrink Price Tag,” and “Democrats Work to Pare Cost of Health Care Bill” are just a few that caught my eye this week.  These headlines, of course, are talking about the initiative to reform the U.S. health care system.  According to these articles, in an attempt to afford this overhaul of our health care system, Legislators are considering everything from lowering the amount of subsidies offered to help uninsured Americans buy coverage, to raising the payroll tax that funds Medicare.

TASC applauds the effort to reform our nation’s health care system and believes that making health care coverage more affordable and accessible is long overdue.  Helping make health care affordable is really at the core of what TASC does.  However, several of the financing options under consideration seemingly run counter to that objective.

The employer-based system and the range of coverage options available have succeeded in extending coverage to millions of working Americans and their families.  I agree with the President when he says that anyone satisfied with the health coverage they currently receive through their employer should be able to keep that coverage.  If I had the opportunity to sit with the President or my Representatives to discuss this issue, the points I would share are as follows:

  • Any attempt to materially alter the current exclusion for health coverage will be a burdensome tax on working Americans at a time when our economy can least afford it.
  • Many policy makers have pledged to ensure that Americans who like their current coverage will be able to keep it in a reformed health care system.  Any initiative to abolish account-based plans is counter to that pledge.
  • Account-based plans lead to better consumer engagement in their health care decisions, which has been shown to help reduce unnecessary health care spending.
  • Account-based plans are particularly important for individuals with chronic illnesses. Even if cost-sharing is nominal, out-of-pocket spending for a person with a chronic illness can quickly add up.
  • Account-based plans are beneficial in helping working Americans afford health care in areas like dental, orthodontia and vision.  These are areas where traditional coverage falls short or should not be extended.

Now, I am not encouraging or discouraging you from talking to your Legislators.  However, if you are so inclined, these key concepts would be a good starting point for that discussion.  Whether or not you have occasion to speak with your Representatives, these remain interesting points.  At the very least, keep these in mind as this process to reform our health care system continues to play out.  More headlines to follow…stay tuned.


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