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The ongoing saga of health insurance

What is national health care? Who’s going to provide it? Who’s going to pay for it? Will it be affordable? Will it be any good? Will we still have a choice of doctors and hospitals? Will we have to take the government plan, or will we have the availability of private carriers still offering coverage and options? Who’s going to control it?

These questions can go on and on. The scary thing is that it appears that nobody has the answers — only initial solutions. Ideas keep popping up, but the actual solutions are still being left out or have an awful lot of holes in them. One of the biggest problems is how are we going to pay for government-run health care. Let’s see now, we have government in banking, government in the car business, and now government in health insurance. What’s next?

The latest proposal has come from Senators Kennedy and Dodd of the Senate Health Committee. Their proposal is to charge annual assessments to employers that do not offer health insurance and have more than 25 employees. These assessments would be $750 per full-time employee per year and $375 per part-time employee per year. What that would mean to an employer that has 30 full-time employees and does not offer health insurance is an assessment of $22,500 per year or $1,875 per month. With an assessment of this magnitude, several different things could happen. One, the employer might cut jobs to get below 25 employees. Two, the employer may cut pay to try to stay in business. Three, the employer may just shut the doors and go out of business. I thought the government was trying to create jobs?

It seems to me that some of the health care proposals are just dreamed up and not carefully researched for the possible impact that they would have not only on employers but also on employees. This proposal could have drastic repercussions on the work force. Just think about the restaurant industry. The majority of the work force in the restaurant business is part-time. At $375 an employee per year, will a restaurant be able to keep its doors open?

With the economy in the shape that it is, it just seems to me that we shouldn’t be jumping at anything that is going to possibly eliminate jobs. While health insurance is one of the most important topics of our president, just doing something to do it is not a very good decision. Whatever we eventually do with our health insurance system is not a decision that can be made lightly. All possible repercussions and long-range effects need to be thought out carefully. One of the most important things that should be considered is: Will the changes create more jobs or will it destroy more jobs? Also, how much is it going to cost us? Maybe we could just print some more money. It seems to be plentiful in Washington or we could just keep some of the millions that are sent overseas right here at home.

Kim Cummins, the life and health specialist for Des Champs & Gregory Inc., with offices in Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, can be reached at (941) 748-1812 or by e-mail at kcummins@deschampsgregory.com.

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