A Free-Market Replacement for Obamacare

Richard Corey

November 7, 2016

According to cnsnews.com dated October 14, 2013: “Bureaucracies in the Obama Administration have thus far published approximately 11,588,500 words of final Obamacare regulations, while there are only 381,517 words in the Obamacare law itself.”

“That means unelected federal officials have now written 30 words of regulations for each word in the law.”

What this looks like to me is that instituting Obamacare was more about increasing the reach of government bureaucracy than it was to create a system for improving public healthcare.

While I believe it is the job of government to regulate certain affairs of the people, in what we like to call a “free-society” that regulation should only insert itself where necessary. Any injection of government regulation into areas where the free market can serve the public is nothing but Socialism, and is anathema to the ideals on which our county was established.

An example would be traffic laws. Hopefully, we all appreciate the regulation of traffic because without traffic laws chaos would rule the highways. There are many other things that need to be regulated in such a large society as ours, far too many to discuss here, but the point is that regulation should always serve the people, not the government. Now that Obamacare has been the law for three years, it appears to serve government bureaucracy far better than it serves the people who pay for it.

So here’s my plan:

  1. A panel of laypersons, insurance industry representatives, and medical representatives (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) shall establish the definition of a Minimum Standard Healthcare Policy for individuals and for people with dependents, including basic dental. This can easily be done by using existing basic policies from Blue Cross, United Health Group and other major carriers as starting points.
  2. All employers including government, private sector, for profit, and non-profit entities shall be required to provide insurance equal to the Minimum Standard Healthcare Policy to all employees including management and owners without exception. This means there would be no exemptions for part-time employees, even if that employee only works one hour a week, and no exemptions for any special-interest group, religious or otherwise. Insurers may offer more, but they cannot offer less. Policies shall be offered nationwide and shall not vary within the boundary of any state.
  3. Independent contractors working for only one organization (such as real estate salespeople) would be treated as employees under this plan. Independent contractors with more than one client would be considered self-employed and would be required to provide themselves a policy under this plan. Inducing an Independent Contractor such as an outside salesperson to add a client in order to avoid providing insurance shall be a felony punishable by fines and or prison to the owners, or in the case of corporations: personnel at the highest level of upper management who shall be personally liable and shall not be protected by the corporate shield.
  4. Cost of the basic individual policy would be paid for by the employer as an employee benefit. Since this is an employee benefit established by Federal mandate, employers shall have absolutely no say as to specific items of coverage in the Minimum Standard Healthcare Policy.
  5. Additional premiums related to insuring dependents would be passed to the employee as a payroll deduction. The employee may be eligible to receive partial or full reimbursement of these additional premiums from the Federal government through the taxation or welfare systems.
  6. Pricing of policies shall be up to insurance providers with the provision that these policies not be priced higher than 150% of the pre-Obamacare cost of a basic policy sold by that insurer (perhaps using 2008 as a benchmark). Collusion between insurers to fix prices shall be punished by fines and/or imprisonment of the owners, or in the case of corporations: personnel at the highest level of upper management who shall be personally liable and shall not be protected by the corporate shield.
  7. In order to make the playing field level, minimum wage shall be set at $8.50 per hour, with the provision that it be raised in 2020 to $10.00 per hour and then shall not be adjusted again, even by act of Congress, for a minimum of 10 years. (In order to depoliticize minimum wage, a stature shall be enacted stating that no wage increase shall take place while any Congress-person who voted for it remains in office.)
  8. Any employer declared through administrative review, arbitration, or court order to have reduced any employee’s wages without proper cause as a result of the enactment of this plan shall pay that employee ten (10) times the amount of the calculated wage reduction or a minimum of $1,000.00 (one thousand dollars) whichever is greater.

WELFARE REFORM

In order for my plan to work best, we would need to restructure how we handle welfare. This plan would be voluntary and open to any able-bodied adult.

  1. Define the Poverty Level as $15,000 (current level is $11,880).
  2. Combine the Welfare System with the Unemployment System and call it Workfare. Welfare and unemployment facilities would become Workfare administration facilities.
  3. Unemployed individuals will be provided employment by the Federal Government to work on tasks not in competition with the private sector. The only exception would be to provide goods and services to government entities at cost. (The government should be non-profit, after all.)
  4. The only eligibility requirement for Workfare is that you not be disabled. (Existing disability programs would continue.)
  5. Workfare provides a job to any citizen over the age of 18 and pays an hourly wage equal to $7.25 (the current minimum wage) plus the individual’s healthcare benefit. The same rules would apply to individuals with dependents, as it is with any other employer.
  6. Workfare participation requires recipient to punch a time clock and do what is required of them by their supervisor. Workers choosing to work less than 40 hours a week would earn less. A system shall be set up to assure assigned tasks are appropriate to the individual’s abilities.
  7. Workfare participants may, at the discretion of management, be assigned classes during working hours to obtain a GED certificate and\or training to build entry level job skills. Classes in parenting skills and civics would also be offered. College level classes would be prohibited during working hours (although participants are certainly free to attend College level classes on their own time and at their own expense).
  8. Workfare participants with children shall be provided free childcare while working at their Workfare job, as well as any individual working in the private or public sector earning less than 150% of the Poverty Level (not including the healthcare benefit).
  9. Existing laws shall apply with to regarding worker and employer rights, responsibilities, and obligations.
  10. Any participant discharged from the program as a result of Administrative review, arbitration, or court order shall be barred from re-entering the program for a minimum of six months unless such order specifies differently.

These plans, in addition to existing Disability and Medicare plans (which would probably need to be modified and updated) would cover everyone except those who chose not to participate, which would include the homeless and the wealthy. A plan will need to be put in place to reimburse hospitals and doctors who provide emergency care to the uninsured. The wealthy would be on their own.

I am not an attorney, and these ideas will need to be nuanced, added to, and vetted by those who can put the concepts into correct legal language while maintaining the spirit embodied in ideals of personal liberty and personal responsibility, and with a strong belief that the duty of government is to serve the public as a kind “Uncle Sam” and avoid becoming an enabling, crippling, and controlling parent.