Dear Senator Daschle,
In your new post as Secretary of Health and Human Services you will be charged with moving a health care coverage bill through Congress during a down economy. One of the current problems consumers face with determining affordable health care coverage is the dizzying array of policies available. One needs to look at plan type (HMO or PPO), the cost of an office visit to a primary doctor, the cost of an office visit to a specialist, coinsurance, annual deductible, prescription drugs out-of-pocket limit, lifetime maximum, Health Savings Account Eligibility, out-of-network coverage, out-of-country coverage, etc. With all of the options available for each of these policy matters it makes it virtually impossible to compare plans that would best meet one’s health care needs. If you are part of a group plan you have fewer choices, but those choices are determined by someone who has no clue as to what your health care needs might be.
Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, has written a book The Paradox of Choice, Why More is Less. The basic thesis of the book is that while culturally we eschew no choice, when faced with too many choices we often make the wrong choice and/or are dissatisfied with our choice. Professor Schwartz has written about this regarding the Medicare prescription drug plan:
Senator Daschle, please keep this in mind in your efforts to reform health care coverage.
Ps. In part two, we’ll visit the tax implications of health care coverage.