Insurer's voucher plan is first in state; does it boost workers' choice -- or just cost?

The Seattle Times
June 11, 2001
by Carol M. Ostrum

" ...'defined contribution' health plans are being offered in Washington by (Regence BlueShield)."

"Under the plans' most pure form, employers would hand employees a voucher, give them a push toward a list of insurance plans and wish them luck. Touted as giving employees more choice, the plans trouble some health-care economists who worry that the trend may unleash forces that will widen the gap between health-insurance haves and have-nots."

"Play it out a couple of years, critics say, and employees could get caught in the middle, as employers' contributions lose ground to rapidly escalating benefit costs. An early version of this movement found that when health-insurance premiums rose faster than company contributions, employees simply dropped coverage... "

Regence President Mary McWilliams:

"Health-care inflation is not abating. Employers need ways to fix what their costs are, and a lot of the tools we had in the past to try to manage health-care costs aren't workable today."

Comment: Isn't our health care system about patients? If we would redirect our reform efforts to creating a system that is designed specifically to provide the best possible care for everyone, within the limits of our resources, then employers, employees, providers, and everyone else would do just fine. Only the middleman profiteers would suffer under patient oriented reform, but then we can no longer afford the luxury of enriching our friends on Wall Street at the cost of losing patient care dollars.