My Point of View: What health insurance in a free market could have been

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Point of View by Ebenezer Howe

Alden resident Ebenezer Howe is chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the local party members.

Health insurance in a free market — what it could have looked like.

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I will attempt to explain what free market health insurance might have looked like in Albert Lea. It is a complex subject, but I will attempt using a stick art-level description to get the idea across.

For this explanation, here are the starting parameters. First (advice to son, 15, on first day of employment at a retail store): 1. The boss is not always right, but he is always the boss. 2. The customer is not always right, but is always the customer. 3. You have a job only because the boss has customers.

Second: The goal of a business is to get more of the customers’ cash into its pocket than the competition gets.

Third: At the end of World War II, government said companies can no longer compete for best employees with health insurance benefits — only wages.

Independent health insurance agencies would have opened up and down Broadway and Main Street

The interface between insurance agencies (boss) and people buying insurance (customer) would produce a list of options that folks want/need. The insurance company (boss) and insurance agency (customer) interface would result in development of policy options that meet the needs of the folks. This ongoing closed loop process would result in the best health insurance policies at the lowest cost because to get the most cash into their pocket they must provide the best policy and service.

Insurance companies would have to tailor products for groups with specific needs because they can’t be all things to all people at a good price. The folks in Freeborn County would most likely require something somewhat different than those in New York City. The agencies would have to learn the options/cost benefit of many companies, choosing to sell for only those who tailored the best products for their customers. An agency would also have to develop a list of questions to ask insurance buyers to provide the best options to them. Agencies that are best at this — getting the best policy at the lowest cost — will end up with the most cash in their pocket.

Example: A young couple gets married and has decided they do not want children. After taking steps to permanently prevent pregnancy, they would most likely choose a policy that does not cover maternity. They would pay for coverage wanted and not be forced to pay for un-needed coverage.

See, I can make the boss/customer scenario work to explain almost anything. In the above, I hope you noticed there was no government interference.

Since we can’t get directly to a free market from where we are now, the only thing to do from Freeborn County is elect folks who will propel us in that direction.

In off years (no general election) political parties elect new officers. These new folks set the direction of the party for the next election cycle. I’m hoping this produces election of liberty-driven free market legislators.

Here in Freeborn County the Republicans hold their executive committee meeting the second Monday of the month, and that was yesterday. Two candidates, one for a state party office and one for a CD1 (congressional district) office had requested the opportunity to court Freeborn County Republicans for votes during the meeting. I believe that elected party officials, which I am now one of, must maintain a level playing field for all candidates, in all elections, until endorsement. And endorsements happen next year. So I invited all 10 currently known candidates, state and CD1, to come and woo us following the executive meeting. This gave us the opportunity to invite the delegates and alternates not serving on our committee. The only advantage given the two who got this started was picking when they present, first or last.

This column was written and submitted prior to Monday, yesterday. With Minnesota weather in March we may have been snowed out. Hope not! Will see how well the candidates used the boss/customer scenario to win votes. Were we the boss or customer?

Anyone who is friend or foe of Donald Trump and would like their position better known within the Republican Party — I am the only Ebenezer Howe in the phone book — give me a call and we can work on making that happen.