Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Universal Health Care

There are many reasons why universal health care would be a good idea. I am going to talk about just one of them: The lack of universal health care gives too much power to large corporations when it comes to employee/employer relationships.

Under our current system, people can get health insurance or coverage only in certain ways. They can be a veteran which allows them to access the VA health care system. They can be old enough for medicare or poor enough for medicaid. Or, they can get their health insurance from their employer. Most people get their health insurance from their employer.

Because of the nature of insurance and spreading risk over groups, larger employers can provide better health care benefits than smaller employers who in turn can provide better benefits than what an individual could buy with the same amount of money. In other words, large corporations have a big edge over small businesses and the self employed.

The lack of universal health care can stifle entrepreneurship. People can find themselves chained to employment at Big Company or at the very least they are less likely to try to go it alone since even if they are successful enough at starting a business that they can eventually get some employees, they *still* cant provide health insurance at the same low cost that large employers do. In the labor market, workers look at total compensation packages. They add up wages +benefits and come up with some idea of the total compensation. They dont care that company A can provide health care at half the cost of small business B. So small businesses lose out and fewer people become self employed which over a long period of time can mean that larger segments of the work force end up working for large corporations.

Having an employer provide health care benefits also gives them an incentive to discriminate. A pure profit driven incentive too. Which means, that companies who discriminate and thus are able to lower the rates of illness in their group will be more successful than companies who dont. (And trust me, a result of at least one SCOTUS decision, large companies will probably be able to get away with discriminating even if there are laws prohibiting it). For example, companies might do what they can do in order to reduce the age of their workforce. They might decide not to hire fat people. They might decide not to hire people who smoke even if they dont smoke at work. They might decide that people of certain races are more risky health wise and they might avoid hiring them. They might be wary of hiring the disabled. And so on. I am sure there are many ways that employers can unfairly discriminate against groups of people with a goal of reducing health care costs.

Universal health care does two things that take power away from large corporations in the labor market.

#1 - universal health care is likely to result in an increase in the number of non-corporate jobs out there. It will increase the self employed which in turn is likely to increase small businesses. That would mean a smaller percentage of the jobs would be in large corporations. Would people still work for large corporations? You betcha! It just would mean more options available.

#2 - universal health care would reduce a very real economic incentive for employers to discriminate against groups of people in our society. It will also provide them one less excuse for prying into employee's personal lives.


Sarah said...

Have you seen Michael Moore's newest doc. yet? You'll like it.

Anonymous said...

your information was interesting.

Lynne said...


No, I havent seen Sicko yet but I will eventually. I have a feeling I will like it too!