October 8, 2007

"That's their money..."

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Control Your Own Health Care:

...Five years ago, the Whole Foods grocery chain switched to a high-deductible plan. If an employee has a sore throat or a sprained ankle, he pays. But if he gets cancer or heart disease, his insurance covers it.

Whole Foods puts around $1,500 a year into an account for each employee. It's not charity but part of the employee's compensation. It's money Whole Foods would have otherwise spent on more-expensive insurance. Here's the good part for employees: If they don't spend the money on medical care this year, they keep it, and the company adds more next year.

It's called a health savings account, or HSA.

CEO John Mackey told me that when he went to the new system, "Our costs went way down."

Yet today, some workers have $8,000 in their accounts.

"That's their money," Mackey said. "It builds up over time because the money is compounding for them."

It will cover all sorts of future out-of-pocket expenses.

Most important, since employees control the money, their behavior changed. Whole Foods workers started asking "how much things cost," Mackey said. "They may not want to go to the emergency room if they wake up with a hangnail in the middle of the night. They may schedule an appointment now."

There was no need to ask about costs before because the insurance company seemed to pick up the tab. But that drove up costs for everyone. Now, saving money makes sense to employees because the money belongs to them.

HSA critics ask whether individual accounts will encourage people to save money at the expense of their health.

Mackey has the right response. "The premise in those kinds of questions is that people are stupid. They're not smart enough to make these decisions for themselves. It's sort of an elitist attitude....

Some of my animus towards leftists is personal and practical. If, when I was young, I had been in the position of those Whole Foods workers, I would have built up by now a really big HSA. Because I don't think I ever once went to a doctor during my 20's and hardly ever during my 30's. So my contributions would have grown, tax-free, for decades!

But HSA's have been blocked by Democrats ever since they were proposed in, I think, the late 70's. They hate them because they allow individuals to make their own decisions, instead of bureaucrats both public and private.

SO, thank you, President Bush! All conservatives owe you many debts of gratitude for things like HSA's, though most of them won't admit it. It's too late for me to get the real benefits from my HSA, but the young workers of today will be much better off when they reach my age.

AND, I spit upon the "Democrat" Party with the utmost contempt. Your socialism is worthless and evil, and you cowardly dogs don't even have the guts to admit to it, or defend it in debate.

Posted by John Weidner at October 8, 2007 8:03 AM
Weblog by John Weidner