Saturday, September 17, 2005

health insurance in america

in the united states, if you're employed, chances are your health insurance (if you have any) comes to you through your employer. in most states (like texas) there is no comprehensive public health system; if you are uninsured in texas and are struck with a catastrophic illness (cancer, say), you just die.

but situations like mine make me wonder what the wisdom in this system is.

i have a job, and my employer will be providing medical insurance. but there's a downside: i'm trapped there, at least until i can find another job that offers insurance.

something like three quarters of all new jobs created in america are created by small businesses. many small businesses are two small to be able to provide affordable health care coverage for their employees, usually because groups are too small, resulting in premiums that are too high. larger companies have an economy of scale and a large enough number of employees that they can simply fund their employees' medical costs directly, in what are known as "self-funded" plans. this isn't possible in a company with just four employees.

the trap is this: if you want to start a small business to sell the better mousetrap you've built, yet you need medical insurance, you can't, because when you quit your job you'll lose your coverage.

this is the position i'm in.

i can make more money -- lots more -- working for the website i moonlight for, and doing my table tent business, except that i wouldn't make enough money to fund insurance for myself and three kids. i can not move up in the world because i'm tied down by american's "capitalist" healthcare system, with profit-driven costs rising more rapidly than anybody can keep pace.

if small businesses are the engine of economic growth in america, why is it that providing universal health coverage, so that people can start those businesses without worrying about the founder or his employees and their families getting sick, is a bad thing?

answer: it's a bad thing because in america, we believe that every person should be left to fend for themselves, and that well-tested answers to societal problems aren't worth implementing here.

1 comment:

  1. I saw this, and I thought of you. :)