What role should employer-sponsored health insurance plans play in U.S. health care?
House Republicans have bashed the health reform law as the beginning of the end of the employer-sponsored health insurance market, since it would be less expensive for some employers to drop their plans and pay a fine to the federal government. The House Ways and Means committee released a report last week finding 71 of Fortune 100 companies could save $422 billion by simply paying fines for their employees, instead of the insurance plans they offer now.
But Republicans haven't been huge fans of employers dictating health insurance coverage for individuals in the past. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed getting rid of the employer-sponsored health insurance tax exclusion in his failed 2008 presidential campaign, which could incentivize people to buy their own plans. Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2012, hasn't gone that far yet. But he does want to "equalize" the tax treatment of health insurance, giving individual buyers the same tax breaks that employees get on their employer health insurance.
Should people get their health insurance through their employers? What considerations should lawmakers take into account when writing policies that shape insurance coverage?