This article does more to prove that health insurance should be divorced from employers.
Dell will announce Apr. 10 that it is becoming the largest U.S. employer to offer workers electronic health records that track their insurance claims and drug prescriptions, which the computer giant says is a key step toward letting its 26,000 staffers coordinate their own care in a bid to improve medical safety and contain costs.
CEO Kevin Rollins will announce the plan today at a health care forum in Nashville, Tenn., where Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt will be the keynote speaker. Dell has offered limited electronic health records since 2004, but the upgrade coming Apr. 20 adds the ability for the system to automatically capture new information about treatments and test results, rather than waiting for the employee to enter the data manually.
Imagine you’re a shareholder in Dell. Do you want your CEO spending his time focusing on how make Dell’s employee health plan administration more efficient (and speaking at health care conferences), or would you rather he spend his time making Dell’s computer manufacturing more efficient?
Further down in the article, we get this:
Backers of such plans believe this approach will let patients impose market discipline on health care by allowing them to refuse wasteful care. But they argue that employees need both electronic health records and access to market information about health-care costs and quality.
However, this free-market approach to health care reform has many skeptics. Service Employees International Union president, Andrew Stern, has argued that poor workers will often choose to forego medical care rather than bear more expenses.
I’ve never heard of Andrew Stern before this article, but I suspect he doesn’t much care for the same interpretation of “free-market” approach that I do. However, to address (the inaccuracy of) his point, a free-market approach doesn’t automatically screw the poor by forcing them to forego medical care to save a few dollars. A reasonable free-market solution will encourage people to forego unnecessary medical care. It should make health care more affordable by imposing strict action-consequence reality on health decisions/spending.
If a person breaks a bone or suffers a heart attack, they’re not going to forego medical care, regardless of how poor or rich. But that person might wear protective boots when riding that motorcycle or stop smoking before it destroys major organs. Conversely, if that person want to continue taking those risks, he will bear the cost burden. Fair doesn’t result in the poor getting something for nothing, which makes it unpalatable to the fear-mongers who sell class warfare as public policy, but it still enables the poor to get what they need.