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A Market Makeover For Health Insurance

Plans similar to the one CED has endorsed are already in place -- and working well -- at Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo, the University of California and Stanford; and for state employees in Wisconsin, Washington and California. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, which covers members of Congress, has a somewhat similar structure.

None of the leading presidential candidates has yet endorsed fully a shift away from employer-financed health care, though several have called for credits to individuals or tax deductibility for individual insurance.

Converting to such a system would be controversial. Insurers and some of the players in the health system would probably object. But the growing sense in business that only a mass marketplace of individuals can apply the competitive pressure needed to discipline the forces of medical inflation is moving the country in that direction.

It should be at the center of the coming health-care debate.

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