Yesterday’s post about Whole Foods C.E.O. John Mackey’s ideas for free-enterprise-based health care reform spurred a lot of discussion here. But much of it was about the appropriateness of boycotts and other issues. I would like to hear what you think of one aspect of his plan, one that he is actually employing in his business: Buying high deductible health insurance for his employees (thus bringing the price down), and then giving his employees money in a tax-free health savings account that can roll over if it isn’t used that would pay the deductible.
So, say you had a policy with a $2,000 deductible, meaning that you would have to pay the first two-thousand dollars for health care in a year. Your employer, though, gave you $2,000 in order to cover those expenses. What you didn’t spend, you could keep.
Would this work? People accustomed to not paying for their health care would still not have to. The cost for insurance would surely plummet. The overall cost of health care would probably go down, since a large number of people won’t spend the full two thousand, so that the insurance would never kick in, and people would have an incentive not to go to the doctor when it really isn’t necessary.
Please note, this says nothing about health care reform in the sense of providing such benefits to everyone. That is a separate issue. This is just a different way of handling employer health benefits. I’m not necessarily advocating it, just asking, “why wouldn’t this work?” (I’d love to hear from a Whole Foods employee or someone else who has this kind of plan!)