Posted by: bridget | 7 February 2007

Sounds Great…

…until you read the fine print. Wal-Mart has teamed up with unions to find a solution to the health care crisis by 2012. They are hoping to bring other groups to the table to discuss strategy and solutions. Sounds like a great idea (much like the Dukakis-Business Roundtable alliance in the late 1980s), until you read their idea of solving the health care issue:

“The group signed a statement denouncing the escalating costs of health care and its employer-based model of coverage. It also agreed to four principles that it hopes will guide the debate for a solution: Health care should be universal; individuals should be responsible for maintaining and protecting their health; health-care quality should be improved; and business, government and individuals should contribute to managing and financing an alternative system.”

An “alternate system” would mean that the middle-class taxpayers would pay for, in taxes, what they now get as an employee benefit. (If employers stopped matching 401Ks in light of increased Social Security, we would see the same effect.) Unless this system is funded by increased taxes on businesses, or the businesses increase their employees salaries to compensate for the lost benefit, it is just shifting costs from businesses to indivdiuals.  Ultimately, this helps no one but businesses that don’t give out employee health care anyway and unions, which are essentially exempt from market forces.

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