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Michael Graham

It has always amazed me that employers take on the responsibility of health care (HC). It is obviously an important facet of each household, but it seems like such an outlier from most other business processes and expenses. And, with employees and companies finally embracing any number of flexible working arrangements, the traditional "HC benefits for the full-time employee" model is in danger of breaking down.

More craziness of the current system is embodied by the fact that adults need to be working to receive affordible medical coverage. The idea of people working a full 100% of their post-education, pre-medicare years doesn't seem to fit neatly into the new reality of Gen Y workers (God bless 'em). Even more traditional workers can come up against situations where it is in their best interest to take time off of work and live on savings for a while (caring for children/parents, for example)

Are there any other examples of employer provided consumer goods/services that consumer's can't effectively buy on their own?

I wonder if the challenge dividend is actually working against the current system-- businesses (who provide HC coverage to employees because everyone else does) may not maximize this area of spending because it may not be viewed as a mission-critical area. Said another way, I wonder if the HC system would be more efficient if HC insurers/providers were paid by HC users more directly (and not by the intermediary employers). In this model, people could freely join 'clubs' who would assemble HC groups to purchase medical insurance.

The most effective clubs would win more members and the less effective ones would shrink. This model would allow consumer empowerment-- the opposite of what's happening now where employees have only an up or down decision on whether or not to use the company-sponsored plan.

This is one area where institutionalized employer paternalism may not yield the best effect for the populus.

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