To understand the future of health insurance, it may be helpful to take a look at its past. Why is it so necessary to have a full time job with benefits in order to secure health insurance for you and your family?
Unless you have an exceptional employer, they are not likely to give you an advance on your paycheck. They likely won’t directly pay for your rent, groceries, utilities or other expenses. So why do they pay for your health insurance?
It wasn’t always that way. Health insurance became a vehicle for companies to attract workers around World War II. The percentage of population on a private health care plan skyrocketed from 9 percent to 70 percent between 1940 and the 1960s. As long as the manufacturing economy thrived, the system worked.
When employees and employers remained mutually loyal to each other, the majority of the population had a protection mechanism from the ballooning cost of health care. In the 1950s, it wasn’t uncommon for a worker to spend their entire career with the same company. Gradually, that loyalty began to fray.
By 2016, the average American worker stays with their employer an average of 4.2 years. Freelancers made up 34 percent of the workforce in 2015. The advantage to the worker is more freedom. The drawback is it is harder to secure health insurance.
A growing percentage of the population no longer fits into our health insurance system. The American public sorely needs alternatives to the employer-based health insurance system that aren’t under the threat of repeal. The political instability of Obamacare means you are throwing the dice as to the program’s future existence.
The current political options to fix the healthcare system involve forcing millions of people off their insurance. People can use health savings accounts or obtain high deductable insurance plans, but neither option offers a complete alternative to the problem.
Maybe necessity can force more alternatives. It would make sense to have a healthcare system that transitions alongside our changing work force. This may mean separating employment and insurance, without diminishing the quality of coverage.
How do we create a more stable system outside the traditional confines of our nation’s capital? Is there a way to create more affordable, and politically stable solutions for those who need it the most?
One alternative might be membership medicine, or concierge medicine. This involves paying a monthly fee, and having routine medical care covered. More doctors are switching to this method, to ensure that some commonly disputed treatments are covered. Questions still abound regarding surgeries or more complex procedures, so it’s not perfect.
As we transition how we work in this country, our health insurance system is in dire need of innovation.
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