I’m thinking, Yeah – A European plan sounds OK to me! Let’s look at some simple statistics (Conservatives prefer things “simple”): The number of Europeans who suffer from lack of access to affordable medical care – Europe: 0, USA: 57,000,000. The number of Europeans forced to declare bankruptcy due to excessive medical bills – Europe: 0, USA, well medical bills are the second leading cause of bankruptcy in the country.
Fortunately the numbers of bankruptcies are down though, but not for reasons you might think. Yielding to lobbying efforts of the credit card industry, the Bush Administration and Republican congress changed the laws making it much more difficult for individuals (not companies, of course) to declare bankruptcy.
Recently House Speaker, John Boehner, rallied his minions to attempt to repeal the “Job Killing” medical reforms passed last year under the disgusting term, Obamacare. I am puzzled about what exactly in this bill, which expands medical access to millions of Americans, makes it a “job killer”? I can cite personal examples were I find instead, the LACK of affordable medical coverage is the real Job Killer.
Take, for example, my very bright son-in-law; an electrical engineer with several invention patents to his name, was mulling the possibly jumping from his current employer (in perpetual downsizing mode for most of the last decade), to a new technology start-up. This small tech start-up company is an example of one of these breed of “American Innovators” that this nation so prides itself on. In a country were we have been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, the bright hope for our future has always been our near mythical reputation as the innovator of the Next Big Thing. So here is a young bright mind poised to step in and be part of America’s big innovator comeback dream.
Well, no. You see this jewel of American daring-do apparently does not offer any employee medical benefits – none, zero, zilch! This bright young engineer is also smart enough to know not to risk the his health and that of his his wife and children by abandoning an employer who currently offers medical benefits.
Now let this point sink in – the LACK of available health care was the Job Killer here, and I can assume, in countless other cases. Innovation is stifled by the inability of this country to provide support for American innovation because we value the profit motive of for-profit medical insurance companies instead – our “innovative spirit” is stuck in the muck of the status-quo.
But the “job killing” examples from our lack of available medical insurance doesn’t stop there. In a country where highly qualified and motivated citizens are clamoring for work; millions of others who would like to retire, instead continue to work, thereby locking up those jobs which could be taken by younger and unemployed workers. These older workers hold onto their jobs because they would lose their paid or subsidized employee medical care if they retired. I can name several personal friends who are holding onto their jobs in State service because they cannot afford to pick up the $1,200 cost of their medical premium on a reduced pension income.
The “job killing” effects from the lack of a national health care system don’t even end there. Conservatives are always touting how Small Business is the backbone of the American economy. My daughter runs a small retail and internet business. But she cannot afford to provide medical insurance to her three employees; one of whom just quit to take a job that does offer employee medical her family needs.
The economic downturn has driven a lot of small businesses out of existence. Here in my own town, each month I see yet another empty building where a business has closed. Restaurants and stores that have been in this town for decades are now gone.
My wife and I no longer go out to dinner or shop to the extent we used to – we can no longer afford it. With paying a medical insurance premium of $1,200 a month, $14,400 a year, most of my disposable income is paid to an out-of-town medical insurance company. Multiply that figure by the thousands of other people in town in my situation and you can imagine the amount of lost consumer dollars that could instead support the local economy.
True, European style medical systems are not free, and their citizens are taxed to pay for these and other benefits. But I have a very strong suspicion that Europeans don’t pay $1,200 a month in taxes for their state medical care alone.
Our lack of a coherent, universal and cost-effective public medical system is what is stifling or innovative spirit and economic revival - THIS is the true Job Killer. Not Obamacare.
~~~My personal retiree factoid:
Just to give an example of how medical premium increases have outstripped income, in 2006 our group medical plan premium was $894 – in six years it has risen just under 30% to where now in 2011 our premium is $1,160. In that same time our retirement income has increased only 6.6%. The growth in cost of our insurance has outstripped our income by 4.5 times. After deducting the insurance premium, my wife's remaining net retirement check is less than $600.
Actually our premium this year would have been $100 higher had we not opted for the lower cost plan version. Unfortunately under the new plan, we have to change doctors; the physicians we’ve used for those past decades are not on this plan.
In six years of group insurance coverage we have been forced to accept four different medical insurance carriers. We had no practical choice in selecting other insurance plans.
Our medical insurance premium is now higher than was the mortgage payment on our house.
~~~Further Reading: Experts doubt claims that health care law is a 'job killer', Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 13, 2011.