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17 April 2011

Business and Health Care

Obviously insurers who make money selling health insurance must lobby like there's no tomorrow to protect themselves when it comes to health-care reform legislation. But what of the rest of Corporate America? Do they stand back, not wanting to interfere in a "not our issue" kind of attitude? Do they stand together with the insurers out of some sense of Corporate Solidarity? Basically, what I mean to ask is - does Big Business generally support the status quo in health care, and if so, why?

Are GE, Google, Ford, Bank of America, Boeing all pleased with America's current health-care financing system, which calls on large companies to pay for their employees' health care? Are they thrilled with having to expend resources negotiating with health insurers and understanding how this coverage affects employee compensation? Do those with large unions find that adding health-care to the equation simplifies the collective bargaining process? Do they not feel they're at a disadvantage with their global competitors most of whom don't have these health-care responsibilities?

Perhaps they'd prefer to avoid getting in the middle of controversial issues, but you'd think they'd be highly motivated to get rid of that particular albatross. They wouldn't have to actually come out publicly - they could just set up some "think-tanks" staffed with articulate, otherwise 'conservative' pundits who would talk about how exceptional health-care is and that while we hate 'socialism' if there's any industry that could use a little 'socialism' health-care is it!

Perhaps they've made an attempt, with those DOA Republican proposals for eliminating group-health plans altogether and moving to individual 'tax-subsidized' vouchers, to push a right-wing solution to their health-care problem. But you've already got a public that overwhelmingly expects someone else to pay for their health care - why not push a little harder on that front - it seems like a surer path to success? Instead, they end up with the worst of both worlds - Obamacare.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Polichinello said...

My company has gone over to a high-deductible plan with HSA's, so there is some affinity for that approach.

Perhaps most of them are afraid that they're going to have to subsidize it via some sort of payroll tax that will offer even less flexibility and predictability than the current system.

April 20, 2011 5:01 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I was thinking that a payroll tax would be more predictable - afterall, current payroll taxes have been very stable - companies can pretty easily project their costs based on employment projections alone, while the health-care market is rather unpredictable and requires frequent changes (as your company has recently done).

April 20, 2011 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Polichinello said...

Medicare is running straight into bankruptcy, so those taxes will be going up. I doubt very much that a universalized version of Medicare will be run any better, and so do a lot of companies.

In a lot of smaller ways, the government can be very unpredictable, too. As I've thumped on before, once the government nationalizes health care, they've effectively nationalized your body. So businesses might well be expected to act as enforcers for whatever health obsession happens to the catch the attention of the people in power.

April 20, 2011 10:12 PM  

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