Freedom of Choice for All

One of the most critical pieces of the philosophy of governance which was foundational to this nation’s beginning was that of choice. Today, there are those who would have us believe that because we (conservatives) believe in the rule of law, we are anti-choice. This  is regularly rubbed in our faces with regard to abortion (where the term “choice” means “one option”), education (choose any school you like as long as it is public) and now health care (pick a plan, any plan, as long as it is government sanctioned).

Jim Lindgren is understandably concerned that the bills currently being reconciled would diminish, not increase, his personal health care choices:

I like my employer’s health plan. Today I learned that under both the Senate and the House bills, I won’t be able to keep my plan. Both bills require reductions in health reimbursement benefits under my plan.

Both the Senate and the House health bills slash a significant part of my employer’s health plan — the Health Flexible Spending Account — restricting them to $2500 and restricting what they can used for.

See, in the interests of leaving no uninsured person behind, we are going to take something that is working (allowing people to set aside funds for their own medical expenses) and make the process more burdensome–to the point where it won’t be worth the hassle for either the employer or the employee to use it.

At the same time we are anticipating these negatives (that is, fewer choices) federal employees have already found out that their health care coverage choices for next year have diminished:

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program typically includes an array of health insurance options. But this year the choices are more limited than before because 32 health insurance plans are leaving FEHBP or reducing their coverage across the country.

“It’s kind of a disturbing trend,” said Dave Snell, retirement benefits service department director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. “It cuts down on choices, for one, and the federal program is all about choice.”

Snell said primarily health maintenance organization plans are eliminating their FEHBP coverage leaving some regions with fewer options. According to the Office of Personnel Management, 10 states — Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Vermont –will no longer have an HMO choice.

Hmm. Anyone else find it interesting that “the federal program is all about choice”? I know not how things stand at your place of employment, but if 32 plans are dropping some or all of their coverage options for federal employees–and there are still plans that haven’t–then these folks have way more choices than we do to begin with.

Speaking of federal employees, if I remember correctly, several amendments to the health care reform bill (House and Senate) were proposed which would ensure that legislators were themselves placed under the laws with which they are are so eager to burden us. Unfortunately, these amendments did not make it. You see, our lawmakers, being a cut above the common man and woman must have access to the best health care–on our nickel, no less. They understand what the public option (sleeping, I’m afraid, not dead) would do to their own choices.

The marketplace is the perfect place for citizens to exercise their freedom of choice, but what we are seeing here is the prelude to regulations which will shut down the marketplace even as the authorities explain to us that the market was really bad, that some people got hurt there and that we all need to have precisely the same type and level of care as everyone else. After all, it is only fair and we wouldn’t want anything to be unfair, would we?

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