As this opinion piece in the WSJ circulated around our office this morning, it was a heartening to see the national conversation talk about the big-picture changes affecting our workforce and social safety net. Senator Wyden and Dr. Emanuel write that our health insurance system is outdated because workers now change employers so often over the course of a working lifetime, because it’s dragging down employers, and because the system is in fact inefficient and atrophying. However, they don’t mention that about a third – a third! – of the work force doesn’t even have a traditional employer—employee relationship to begin with. They’re outside the system that doesn’t work that well anyway. What do Emanuel and Wyden suggest?
“Americans need some of the benefits of the employer-based system: the security of being part of a large group, of not being denied coverage because of age and pre-existing conditions, and the convenience of having experts screen qualified plans and manage enrollment. But Americans also need portable insurance -- coverage that follows them when they change jobs, lose jobs, start a business or whatever else may come. Americans need more choices and the market power to buy the health coverage that works best for them and their families and, in turn, to make insurance companies compete for their business.”