Libertarians and Conservatives are always talking about the size of government, but that is allowing the liberal/progressives to form the argument in their terms, after all big government of any kind is a positive in their lexicon. What we need to bring to the argument is the role of government. For Libertarians and Conservatives that role is limited to the defined powers in the Constitution and not a penumbra of rights and powers discovered by the courts.
The Constitution does not mention anything about the health care; yet we have allowed the government to expand its role into our lives. The idea of promoting the general welfare in 18th century terms is to encourage the prosperity of the citizens and to act as a neutral arbiter of disputes. In that role the federal government is exercising its duty. Health care is not a defined right that the federal government is required to provide.
Employer paid health care and the problems resulting from it are the direct result of government interference in the free market. During WWII wages and prices were frozen. Employers wishing to pay their staff more were restricted by law from raising wages, however, they could offer benefits that were not counted as wages and the employer could cost out as a business expense. Employer paid health insurance was intended to be a short term solution to a short term problem and would end with the ware.
Unfortunately, unions found that this was something that could be negotiated into contracts in place of wages and employers, union and non-union employers went along. Paid as wages or benefits the cost was the same to the employer, however since the unions in the late 40’s and early 50’s controlled access to employment it was beneficial to make health care insurance an employer paid benefit. So over the next 60 years the concept that the employer pays health insurance has become standard thinking, which corrupt officials have turned into a right.
The cost of this benefit has continued to increase because medical practitioners, insurance companies and covered employees all think that someone else is paying. In reality it is the employee who is paying in lower wages than they would be receiving without this benefit, today this amounts to an average of about $4,500 per employee. Given the opportunity most employees would opt for the cash wages and pay taxes on them and purchase their insurance outside of employer plans.
For the younger people in the work force they would, as they do now, opt to not purchase health insurance, this is a large portion the currently “45 million” uninsured. For young workers this is a completely rational and logical decision. Why buy insurance when you don’t get sick. Yes, there are tragic cases of young people with MS, Cancer, etc but as a group American youth are the healthiest ever, the estimated life span into the 80’s is proof of that.
Libertarians and Conservatives must continue to define the role of government as limited and not allow the liberals to make a right out of a business expense.