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DEAR EDITOR:

A chance comment by a nurse had me thinking of a propaganda leaflet I wrote a while back headed “Ban Group Health Insurance Now? Here’s Why!” In it I call for “knowledgeable, open and free debate” on the motives, workings and consequences of group health insurance. That’s because group health insurance is an insidious chameleon product that’s not what it appears to be.

Businessmen had sensibly rejected group health insurance when it was first proposed to them by a crackpot university professor. Why? Well, imagine proposing something today in 2023 called group automobile benefits that would have employers paying $1,000 per month for selected workers to enjoy luxury SUVs at an out-of-pocket cost to the latter of maybe $100 a month or so. Does that sound crazy, or what?

Then, in May 1943, an incredible confluence of circumstances turned businessmen’s heads, and had them wanting to bankroll group health in a calculating, deliberate way for political reasons. Congress has never publicly investigated those circumstances or those political reasons. You’d think that many, but not all, businesses’ decisions to voluntarily impose a potentially destructive excise tax on their own labor force with hardly a peep from shareholders might have raised eyebrows in Congress. They didn’t. They should have.

Why point out troubling elements of group health, a $1 trillion industry? Well, there’s at least nominal First Amendment liberty, I suppose. Plus, I have a pet theory; a single field grade officer with the right skills and a commitment to truth in the early 1960s could have talked sense about Vietnam to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and, maybe, have altered America’s war commitment in Vietnam in a good way. I’m probably wrong about that. I still like the idea of one-man dissent.

Ban group health insurance now. Why? Because it’s unAmerican.

JACK LABUSCH

Niles



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