American employers should want single-payer health care

By | Sunday, September 20, 2020 Leave a Comment

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the case of Trump v. Pennsylvania. The court decided in favor of Trump, concluding that employers have broad religious and moral exemptions from the mandate that health insurance provided to their workers include coverage for birth control. Soon the court, minus Justice Ginsberg, may rule on other aspects of ACA potentially dooming that legislation.

But that is not what I want to talk about. Every time questions are raised related to health insurance provided by corporations, I am reminded of something my dad used to say. He was very conservative and voted the straight republican ticket for most of his life. [He voted Republican up until tRump. He couldn’t bring himself to vote for a man he called an “unqualified moron”, regardless of party loyalty.] He owned a small specialty chemical business. Over the years he had anywhere from 3 employees (in the earliest days), to 50 or 60 at the company’s peak.

Every time the issue of health insurance came up, American business would vigorously declare that the government should stay out of it. My father would shake his head and growl, “What, are they nuts?” He would say things like, “I am in the chemical business. I am not in the insurance business. I don’t know health insurance, and I don’t want to have to provide it to my employees.” He would ask, “Why do these companies want to deal with this mishegas? They make cars, or sell shoes, or fly airplanes. That’s what they should do!” He would go on, “Every year I have to read through all these fucking insurance riders and choose the best insurance for my people. What if I make a mistake? I lie awake at night worrying about what would happen if I chose a bad insurance plan and an employee suffers.” [He really was a good employer in spite of his gruffness and conservative nature.] “If the government wants to take over health insurance, I say ‘Please! Please do!’ What makes these companies want to deal with this nonsense. Let the government take it over! Please.”

Of course, it was a rhetorical question. He knew why, and I do too. The vast majority of America’s major corporations are run by arch conservatives who want the government to tax as little as possible, and provide as few services as possible. They also want their employees to be stuck in their jobs due to the need for insurance. Furthermore, large corporations can carry the cost of human resources departments that handle getting, maintaining, and managing healthcare policies. It’s no skin off the back of the people at the top to have their businesses providing healthcare insurance to their employees.

But life would be so much easier for everyone if we just had universal healthcare. Corporations that aren’t in the healthcare industry could focus on their core competency, whatever that might be. For companies with religious or moral objections to certain healthcare options, the issue becomes moot. Also, companies can stop playing stupid games such as making sure that everyone is part-time, or a consultant, etc. to avoid having to provide benefits (of which insurance is far and away the most expensive.) Meanwhile, companies use health insurance as a way to handcuff their employees to their jobs. But, I have to ask, do they really want employees that are only there because of the health insurance benefit? I’ve got to believe that someone clocking in every day solely for the health care is unlikely to be a company’s dedicated performer! Let them go, taking their government provided health insurance with them, and bring in someone else who is truly invested in the work. Then the employee, now freed from the need for employer sponsored healthcare, can find another job that better suits their needs, aptitudes, and desires. Everyone wins - the worker, the employers on both side of the move, and the economy. Everyone.

Oh, and another benefit of a single-payer system: all Americans can get the healthcare they need without going bankrupt. Not having your company situated in a country filled with the sick, dying, and bankrupt, has got to be worth something. And the net cost for American businesses will be almost nothing. If business stopped objecting and just let the government take over providing health care in this country, they could relieve themselves of all the overhead of providing it themselves. Sure, their taxes would probably go up, but, that tax burden would be spread across all taxpayers. I am hard pressed to believe that the portion contributed by corporate taxes would be greater than the cost employers already bear providing private health insurance. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

So, please, can we stop litigating who pays for what, when, and how, and just give the human beings that live in American healthcare already? Geesh.
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