A Free-Market Replacement for Obamacare

Richard Corey

August 11, 2017

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.”

It seems to me is that 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 seven years, it appears to serve government bureaucracy far more than it serves the people who pay for it.

The problem is that we have a committee of 535 legislators trying to regulate an extremely complicated industry that they only understand as consumers. With a range of expertise ranging from “idiot” to “god knows what” what we received was 906 pages of confusion in the original law, plus an additional 27,520 pages of “regulations.”

As someone who believes that a simple, free-market solution is actually possible, I came up with what seems to me to be a workable plan that creates no bureaucracy, no “exchanges” and doesn’t require much of a change from what we had before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

My plan is predicated on the fact that there are already two classes of people receiving excellent healthcare at no cost: the destitute and the incarcerated. Poor people with no income receive healthcare through government benefit programs. Yes, they may have to go to clinics or emergency rooms, but they cannot be turned away, and if they have no means to pay, they won’t be sent to debtors prison. The nature of those incarcerated means their access to healthcare is restricted, so prisons are required to provide it. So the destitute and the incarcerated are not people with which we need to be concerned.

Those that we do need to be concerned about are those people working in jobs that do not provide healthcare insurance. Prior to Obamacare, employers were not required to provide health insurance. Obamacare instituted the “employer mandate,” and as of January 1, 2015, employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees were required to provide health coverage to full-time employees or else pay a tax penalty. Employers with less than 50 full-time employees are not subject to these tax penalties for not offering health insurance coverage.

What I propose is that all employers be required to provide basic health insurance to every employee, and all basic policies for employer and employee alike must be equal. This would be considered part of the employees compensation, and there would be no payroll deduction for the basic insurance policy.

Employers would be free to purchase additional insurance for themselves, and for specific employees if they so choose, and any employee would be free to purchase additional insurance for themselves at their own expense.

Salient points would be:

  1. A panel of laypersons, insurance industry representatives, and medical representatives (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists – but absolutely no politicians) would establish the definition of a Minimum Standard Healthcare Policy (MSHP) for individuals, including basic dental. This can easily be done by using basic standard policies that existed prior to the enactment of Obamacare, from Blue Cross, United Health Group and other major carriers as starting points.
  2. Employees with dependents under the age of 18 would be required to purchase insurance for their dependents at a subsidized rate through payroll deductions. The amount of subsidy would be calculated based on their hourly wage and number of dependents. This could be administered through the taxation or welfare systems.
  3. 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. Since this is an employee benefit established by Federal mandate, it is not a free-speech matter (how employees spend their money is none of the company’s business) and employers shall have absolutely no say as to specific items of coverage in the Minimum Standard Healthcare Policy.
  4. Insurers may offer more, but they cannot offer less. Minimum Standard Healthcare Policies shall be offered nationwide and shall not vary from State to State, nor within the boundary of any State.
  5. 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 incarceration of the owners, or personnel at the highest level of upper management (ie: CEO), who shall be personally liable and shall not be protected by the corporate shield.
  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 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 nationwide, 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 statute shall be enacted stating that no wage increase shall take place while any Congressperson who voted for it remains in office.) Individual States shall continue to have the right to set the minimum wage higher if they so choose.
  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 $5,000.00 (five thousand dollars) whichever is greater.

This plan, in addition to existing Disability and Medicare plans, would cover everyone except those who are destitute or incarcerated, and there is already infrastructure in place for them.

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 with as little intrusion as possible while avoiding becoming a crippling parasite.