By Jack E. Lohman
The business members of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce need help on health care costs, but not the kind of help they are getting from their association.
It’s bad enough that, historically, employers have been saddled with providing health care to their employees. It’s a stupid system that grew to reward insurance companies for serving as the middleman, albeit at an additional cost of 31% to cover the total insurance bureaucracy. That whole structure must change.
But in the meantime, there IS something WMC can do to alleviate the problem.
Rather than embracing the costly “middleman” structure that protects the insurance bureaucracy, WMC should itself offer a Medicare-type of system to its members, not the commercial plans it currently sells for the industry.
All WMC would have to do is set up a bill-paying entity like WPS has done for Medicare, and even use the same Medicare fee schedule and fee-for-service system in use today. Then charge members for the healthcare costs sans the wasted 31%.
They could even subcontract it to WPS or one of its competitors.
Even WPS could set up a “commercial” Medicare service, if they wanted, but this would compete with their current commercial service so I hold no hope there.
The savings to WMC members would come from the elimination of the current actuarial and marketing costs and commissions, gatekeeping costs, high CEO salaries and bonuses, and the ever-growing shareholder profits. It would function as a nonprofit service and would strengthen and grow WMC’s membership.
One WMC faction would not be happy campers: its insurance company members. But the other 80-90% would be estatic, and the state’s business climate would grow exponentially. We’d all welcome that.
Will WMC get smart, or will its membership have to look elsewhere for such services?
Time will tell.
Can you imagine this? Free market healthcare! Businesses can “elect” to join or not, and WMC could even allow the uninsured to buy in! What a novel concept.