Last year I gave State Sen. Judson Hill a lot of flack for trying to bring RomneyCare to Georgia, via SB 28. This year he is proposing legislation (SB 383, which not online yet) on the health insurance front that would help Georgians without complying to with mandates that ultimately don’t work and burden taxpayers with government subsidies:
Gov. Sonny Perdue said Wednesday he is backing legislation that will give Georgians a tax break for the premiums they pay on high-deductible health insurance plans.
The proposal also would eliminate a premium tax paid on such policies and give small businesses tax credits for enrolling employees in high-deductible plans. And it would allow consumers who buy such plans to get rebates from insurers for “behavior modifications,” such as quitting smoking or lowering their blood pressure.
High-deductible health plans generally offer coverage with annual deductions of $1,000 to $5,000 for individuals and $2,000 to $10,000 for families. They typically are coupled with health-savings accounts, which allow people to sock money away tax-free to cover health care costs.
Advocates of the bill claims that 500,000 Georgians could get coverage with these types of tax incentives. Some dispute that figure, like the always anti-market Georgia Watch:
Allison Wall, executive director of the consumer group Georgia Watch, called it a “pipe dream” to say that 500,000 Georgians would gain insurance through the bill.
“Are middle-income people going to be able to save for anything, much less a health savings account?” she asked. “If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, or struggling to stay out of bankruptcy or to pay the light bill, is this going to be attractive to you?”
To be fair Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine also disputes the figure.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation puts the number of uninsured individuals at 1.7 million, of that number 510,000 do not need financial assistance to get insurance coverage. That means that these individuals can afford to buy coverage but don’t or they could afford to buy coverage by making minor lifestyle changes, perhaps cutting back on eating out or recreational activities.
Contrary to all the alarmist rhetoric the so-called crisis of the uninsured is made out to be much more that it really is. Of the 1.7 million uninsured, 595,000 need some form of financial assistance to get insurance. Another 340,000 are eligible for government programs (Medicare, Medicaid or PeachCare). As mentioned above, 510,000 do not need assistance and can afford health insurance. The reality is that there are only 255,000 Georgians who are truly incapable of being insured.
It certainly seems that Sen. Hill’s legislation is a step in the right direction to getting more individuals covered without coercion from government.