Alone among the nations of the world, the U.S. has relied upon private health insurance to cover the majority of its population, but far from all – 47 million are left out. This system is inefficient: it costs too much and the business community overpays. The private insurance industry spends about 20% of its revenue on administration, marketing, and profits. Further, the industry imposes on physicians, hospitals and businesses an administrative burden in billing and insurance related functions that consume another 12% of insurance premiums. Thus, fully one third of insurance premiums could be drastically reduced if we were to finance health care through expansion of government – run Medicare to every U.S. citizen. Medicare overhead is estimated to be about three percent.
Most of these unnecessary costs are borne by U.S. business, now held captive by the Washington lobbying of the private insurance industry. It is time for the advocates of a single-payer, (the US government) to make common cause with business interests to modernize the health system in the interest of delivering a better health product, eliminating unnecessary costs, and making U.S. business more competitive around the world. The Committee for Economic Development, a high powered business group, says, “The competitiveness of American firms is threatened by the cost of health insurance” U.S. business has no obligation to insurance companies. It should pass the cost of insurance to the government just as it does when it lays off thousands of unneeded workers.
The recent agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers featured an important change in the health-care obligations of GM. No longer will they be in the health-care field, but will devote all their energies to their own products. Their competitive position will be improved as they are freed from the ever-growing costs of health care.
Some business executives believe that this model should be applied to all companies so that the responsibility for the health-care of the nation would be assumed by the Federal Government, paid for by general tax revenues. The objectives would be to lower the cost of health care, to include all Americans and to help business become more competitive by eliminating a major expense.
Here are ten reasons why business should support national health insurance as developed by Physicians for a National Health Program:
10. National Health Insurance will reduce liability insurance and workers compensation costs.
9. National Health Insurance will eliminate the constant headaches of running a health benefits bureaucracy, annual negotiations with insurance companies, etc.
8. National Health Insurance will limit complaints by employers over rising premiums and co-pays and conflicts with labor unions over benefit cuts, givebacks, etc.
7. National Health Insurance will reduce the incentive to hire part-time workers and enable them to attract better employees.
6. National Health Insurance will curb health-related bankruptcies, reduce health spending by low income workers, and free up money for consumer spending.
5. National Health Insurance will reduce the cost of providing health benefits.
4. National Health Insurance will eliminate retiree benefit costs for those with obligations to provide coverage.
3. National Health Insurance will eliminate unfair competition from employers who don’t provide insurance.
2. National Health Insurance will reduce absenteeism and produce a healthy and more productive work force.
And the number one reason for National Health Insurance from a business perspective is…
1. National Health Insurance will allow health-care costs to be controlled and predictable, eliminating it major source of business uncertainty and a barrier to planning.
And, oh yes, it’s the right and moral thing to do.