Why Are Employers Still Providing Health Insurance?

Hobby Lobby decision should push Congress to end practice, Jon Healey argues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2014 1:19 PM CDT
Why Are Employers Still Providing Health Insurance?
Customers leave a Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 30, 2014.    (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Hobby Lobby decision still looms large over the opinion pages today. The Wall Street Journal called it "an important vindication of religious liberty," while the New York Times complained that the justices gave "for-profit companies an unprecedented right to impose their religious views on employees." But whatever you think of the decision, Jon Healey at the LA Times thinks it raises an important question: Why are employers still providing health insurance? Or, more accurately, why do they think they are the ones providing it?

In Healey's view, it's actually workers paying for their own health care, because their premiums would otherwise be salary—companies don't "have an extra pocket that healthcare costs come out of." But because employers pick the plans and send the checks, employers like Hobby Lobby think they're the ones "buying" the insurance. "Congress could dispel this accounting fiction and give individuals unfettered choice over their coverage," by shifting tax incentives from employer-purchased plans to individually-purchased ones, Healey argues. Once we needed employers to cobble together risk pools, but now ObamaCare exchanges "perform that function, and do so on a larger scale." Click for his full column. (More Hobby Lobby stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.