Critical Condition

The Five Freedoms at Risk from ‘Reform’

Fortune editor at large Shawn Tully has identified five basic freedoms that Americans could lose if some version of Obamacare eventually becomes law. I’m for talking about the risk to our freedom, not just to our pocketbooks, from ill-advised federal legislation.

Here is Tully’s list of the five endangered freedoms:

1. Freedom to choose what’s in your plan

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

And here is Tully’s blunt conclusion:

In reality, the flexible, employer-based plans that now dominate the landscape, and that Americans so cherish, could disappear far faster than the 5 year “grace period” that’s barely being discussed.

Companies would have the option of paying an 8% payroll tax into a fund that pays for coverage for Americans who aren’t covered by their employers. It won’t happen right away — large companies must wait a couple of years before they opt out. But it will happen, since it’s likely that the tax will rise a lot more slowly than corporate health-care costs, especially since they’ll be lobbying Washington to keep the tax under control in the righteous name of job creation.

The best solution is to move to a let-freedom-ring regime of high deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits, and cross-state shopping for bargains (another market-based reform that’s strictly taboo in the bills).