by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-HD 11)
One of the most overlooked points in the argument for a single-payer health insurance system is how great it would be for business. Single-payer would not only give businesses a huge boost in their two most valuable resources, time and money, but also brings many other advantages. With HR 676, supported by more than half the Democrats in the U.S. House, everyone would have health coverage for life. A single-payer plan would replace private insurance plans, current public plans (including Medicaid) and an end to employer-provided insurance. Here’s more on how it makes good sense for business:
- Cost: According to Physicians for a National Health Care Plan, companies would pay less under a single-payer system than they currently pay as a single-payer system eliminates workman’s compensation costs and health care costs for retirees.
- Time: Currently, businesses spend time and money identifying insurance plans, negotiating those plans, and processing information the insurance companies use (for their own profit, of course). Instead of the monthly premiums businesses now pay to insurance companies, they would pay a payroll tax (ten percent or less) directly to the government, and their human resource departments could stop identifying, negotiating, and processing.
- Ending Discrimination: Questions of pre-existing conditions, age, employment, income, and location would disappear, along with high deductibles, shocking co-pays and ever-increasing premiums.
- Competing in the Global Economy: All businesses will benefit from a single-payer system because they will be better able to compete both domestically and globally. In addition, since most industrialized countries already have some sort of single-payer system, companies in those countries would not have an advantage the US does not.
- Small Business and Job Creation: Single-payer benefits are especially important for small businesses owners, farmers, and the self-employed. A small business owner doesn’t have a human resources department to sift through all the insurance negotiating work. Under a single-payer system, entrepreneurs will no longer have to concern themselves with health care coverage for employees; they can focus on running their business.
- Transparency: Businesses that provide health insurance for their employees, are, in effect subsidizing those that do not. A Public Citizen study makes the case that single-payer would “stop penalizing businesses that provide health insurance” and calls health insurance premiums a “triple tax”: first, the premiums for individual employees and their families; then, the premium-embedded cost-shifting hospitals charge to make up for lower costs paid by Medicaid; and, finally, the increase in premium rates to compensate for the losses incurred in treating the uninsured.
- Stability: In addition, business leaders currently have no input into health care costs, the costs that help determine the price of the premiums. The process for increased hospital or pharmaceutical costs is a mystery, totally out of the hands of the business paying the premiums. They have to pay what the insurance industry demands. The lack of predictability and the constant fluctuation make it difficult for businesses to plan for the future. A single-payer plan guarantees stability.
- Health and Productivity: All companies would benefit from having healthier employees and fewer missed working days, and companies wouldn’t compete for qualified employees based on their ability to provide health insurance.
- Freedom of Choice: Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts economics professor, estimates about 95 percent of families would save money under such a system. Beyond saving money, businesses and families would gain peace of mind through a choice of doctors, predictable and stable health care, and expanded access to vision, dental, and mental health care.
Businesses and citizens should not need to subsidize health insurance profits any longer. Leaders should support single-payer healthcare to help American businesses thrive.