I frequent the John Stossel message boards at ABCNews. I often find little morsels of economics misunderstanding like this.

LUCKY are those people who have full time employment whose employer pays all or part of their health insurance. Those people are becoming far fewer now that many companies are discontinuing health insurance benefits because they are more interested in larger profits than helping their employees stay healthy, so these same employees can continue to generate large profits for their company.

Health Insurance benefits were rarely included to affect the health of employees. Central planners decided that an incentive for employers to pay for certain benefits rather than paying the employee cash would force people to purchase health insurance who might otherwise not do so. By the time health insurance became popular, insurance was a highly regulated industry.

Tax benefits which lead to larger profits motivated employer sponsored healthy insurance programs. From the time of their adoption, central planners knew that health insurance would only be offered by employers for as long as not offering health insurance was less profitable. They did not see a future where rising health care costs combined with rising health insurance prices would make it more profitable to not provide such insurance.

Who is to blame? Businesses, which have always survived by looking for more profit, or central planners, who failed to plan for the ever-changing marketplace? For centuries, businesses have done much the same thing: look for the best method to bring their product to market. In capitalist markets that is usually synonymous with the cheapest method. That’s not a bad thing. I look for the cheapest peanut butter and the cheapest toilet paper that will suffice my needs. Price gives us a convenient ruler to measure cost.

Employer provided health insurance is a means to acquire labor. For some time, it was made cheaper than cash payments to employees. Now it isn’t. The only remedy to keep employer sponsored insurance programs is to make it cheaper again. Until the regulations catch up, employees pay the price, but the fault rests clearly on legislators, lobbyists and special interest groups, not on a mythical change to increase profits. The goal to increase profits has always been there.