To Hell with Health Care!

I am tired of hearing about this Obamacare, Trumpcare, Medicare, I don’t care! I think all of these lazy welfare types ought to just get off their butts and get a job that covers their insurance premiums for them! I have always worked for a company that provides health insurance for me and my family. If I needed to move from job to job in my career I always took a job that provided a provision for health care. If this is good enough for me it should be good enough for everyone. Get a job!

The above statement is true, partially. I have worked to provide myself and my family with health care all of these years but I do not think everyone should get a job that provides health care. In reality, corporations should really not be in the business of providing health care.

This is a good benefit for people who work for particular organizations that choose to provide for this but there are many that choose to NOT provide for their employees health care. These are the complications of this matter: some companies provide for their employees “health and welfare” (as my union steward dad used to say). Others, such as restaurants and consulting companies do not. In the case of the later, maybe the employee can make a good compensation and earn enough to provide for expensive health care costs.

In the industries like restaurants, the owners may argue that their profit margin is too tight for them to spend money on this benefit. However, we do see that there are many celebrity chefs with multiple restaurants that may still continue to hoard all of the profit from their business and not provide the extra employee benefits because of the high level of turn over and that fact that if particular staff do not like their limited compensation they can easily get someone with similar skills to take their place.

Even if a company provides health care, this becomes a convoluted system involving intricate regulations between, employee, employers, insurance companies and medical providers. I have seen the contribution that I need to make from my pay check steadily increase since I began needing to pay a contribution in my first job at a bank back in early 1980.

Most recently my employer has switched from a fully paid plan provided by a “for profit” HMO to a plan that I need to pay a larger contribution for that is a 90/10 plan. Meaning I have to pay for 10% of all procedures out of pocket. The cost to keep the full coverage was nearly double the contribution from my paycheck that I had been used to paying for decades now. And of course, this all happens the exact year that I have to start having major surgeries on my aging body for things like hips and shoulders. I think they almost planned it that way to get more money out of me after I spent most of my earlier years not needing anything more than allergy medicine.

Another interesting development around all of this is the compensation provided to municipal and union workers like the transit unions and city employees. These groups have never had to make a contribution — or partial payment — for health care from their paychecks but most of their recent contract negotiations have started to include this requirement. The companies need to do this to cover increasing costs of health care dictated by insurance companies; actions designed to keep the profit margin favorable to them.

These are costs that I have paid for decades but the union and municipal types are just seeing these for the first time. The most ironic thing is the municipal employees, that are friends of mine, are blaming “Obamacare” for this kind of price increase. This is the kind of rhetoric these folks would share with each other and it is the type of bias and frustration on the part of the working class that allowed Donald trump to become POTUS. When, in reality, it is only a leveling of the costs that were paid by private employees for years now and, for sure, a continuation of the profit to be made by running an HMO.

But all of this aside to hell with health care! We know that there is a desire for all Americans to get a better grip on the costs that make up 1/6 of the entire economy. On one hand, the Freedom Caucus thinks all people should make enough money to keep enormous sums safely sheltered in tax-free medical savings account. 99% of us are living from one paycheck to the next. We cannot save for summer vacation let alone a trip to the OR for triple-bypass surgery. Another group relies on the government funded Medicare and Medicaid programs which provide insurance for catastrophic care but maybe not so much of an incentive for folks to pursue routine health care and healthy life styles.

There is talk of a “public option” which would be affordable health care coverage provided by the government. This would be a good option for the restaurant worker or artists who do not work in the structured, restrictive walls of the corporate world. But this too, is only a band aid on the complicated and intricately regulated, for profit, medical insurance industry. It is not addressing the root of the problems and will not relieve any of the true frustrations and real fears about how this “human right” can be guaranteed for all.

To hell with health care! We need a universal solution that is applied across all walks of life without the involvement of employers that do, or do not, provide coverage; without a convoluted, bureaucratic and costly regulatory system
(I work for a health system — I know); and most importantly without FOR PROFIT insurance companies that thrive on the inefficient and costly practices that help them maintain maximum confusion by which they consistently increase their charges to the workers while directing profit to the few.

One factor of a universal health care solution is that corporations would not need to provide health care to employees. We would all have a health care safety net that is guaranteed regardless of where we did — or did not — work. Companies would not need to maintain tax and benefit experts that finagle formulas and spin negotiations in a fruitless effort to maintain a status quo. However, any one of us as employees would not need to stay with employers based on the fact that we needed to maintain health coverage for ourselves and our families. We could take the risk to be more entrepreneurial and pursue many other productive paths in our work lives without the fear that the need for a surgical procedure would result in bankruptcy. Even more so, the world is changing to this gig economy which means that people graduating today may never have a 9–5 job, so single payer is probably necessary.

When I first thought of this topic I wanted to write a would’ve, could’ve, should’ve about my life and how I probably would have pursued a career as a musician and humanities teacher instead of “IT Guy” who has spent the last 30 years implementing and supporting computer systems in support of the medical insurance leviathan. I hope that some of the younger workers may have a chance to not tie their basic health care needs to an employer and that they will have a chance to reach their highest dreams — healthy, happy and risk free.