Editor’s note: this is a guest post from long-time reader Sebastian Hernandez.
The vast majority of Americans receive Health Care benefits from their employers, making Health Care one of the, if not the #1 budget item outside of regular operating capital for businesses. Think of it as a voluntary tax.
At the current rate of % increases we will soon hit a breaking point when companies start rationing health benefits to only premier employees. If the Government can offer an alternative that removes the onus for businesses to provide this critical service, it frees businesses from the costs and headaches of managing health care benefits for employees and allows them to focus on their core business. If a mandated government tax for health care (like Social Security and Medicare) replaces their voluntary benefit payout, and promises to rein in costs AND extend health care benefits to every American, how does this not benefit American companies?
A perfect example of how hurtful the current “model” is to competition is the US Automobile business. The burden of Health Care costs is something their European & Japanese competitors do not have to worry about in such a direct manner.
Because Health benefits are so closely tied to jobs, potential entrepreneurs looking to start a business have to think twice because of the prohibitive costs of purchasing health care insurance without the tremendous tax savings and purchasing power offered by pooled plans that most businesses can sign up for. The tax implications are inherently unfair, uncompetitive and anti-free market. You can pretty much forget starting your own business if you have a pre-existing condition that handcuffs you to your job for fear of losing coverage. Exceptions of course would be those lucky to be independently wealthy. With regards to pre-existing conditions, good luck getting a plan to cover you in the first place, and if you do the costs are astronomically prohibitive, hence the so-called ‘golden handcuffs’ of benefits tying people to their jobs.
The only option people ambitious Americans have when they cannot afford to pay individual-based health insurance is to risk and go without health care, or choose plans that will provide some levels of comfort, but ultimately leave them underinsured – something plenty of folks do. Heaven help them if a serious situation occur and they need a doctor, because the aftermath of costs will bury them. You can see this reflected in the rates of bankruptcies directly tied to medical expenses. It is said more than 65% of bankruptcies happen due to medical bills. It should be noted that a not insignificant percentage of these bankruptcies happen to people with medical insurance.
Status quo is an untenable situation that will undoubtedly become worse and drag the economy down further. We know this because it is already happening.
Then why is there so much opposition to reform is a clear indication of:
a) Willful ignorance and fear mongering stirring angry reactions from those unable to see the clear and present dangers of inaction. You see this with blatantly false accusations, dramatic and untrue conclusion jumping, and piggybacking of unrelated issues to the debate (illegal immigration, abortion, destruction of America, etc.)
b) People unable to conceptualize economic situations past the narrow worldview of their own existence (not a knock on individuals but a knock on our nature as humans) to see the volatile ramifications of continuing the status quo; and/or:
d) Fear of change. The so called “devil I know vs. the devil I don’t” strikes fear of the unknown and invites all of the cranks that twist reality with enough distortion that typically logical people no longer know what to believe.
Some of these indicators are understandable for sure. That said, once the facts are laid on the table, no rational person can make a valid argument that involves doing nothing. If they continue to believe this they really do not deserve a seat in the discussion. I’m looking at you Republicans.
This whole scene of anti-reformists hogging the media spotlight is the exact reason the founding fathers created America as a REPUBLIC versus a direct democracy. Generally speaking, our founding fathers understood that the people cannot be trusted, better said – cannot be counted on to do the right thing when faced with difficult situations. That is why the United States of America exists as a representative Democracy, entrusting (for better or worse) our leaders and representatives to make decisions for our communities and nation. It all accounts for a messy and sometimes cringe-inducing process – the proverbial ‘sausage making’ to use cute legislative parlance.