Business Community must get behind single-payer health insurance

By Jack E. Lohman

(original post and comments at Small Business Times)

So okay. I’ve been a CEO and I know what’s going through your mind. “I don’t want the government involved in anything! Period!”

I understand. The government does some pretty stupid things.

But remember that the legislators writing the laws are paid to do those stupid things by special interests that want in the taxpayer’s pockets. They drive up government spending, which increases their profits and our taxes, and forces the state to cut employee pay and revenue-sharing and school spending and whatever it takes to retain the cash flow to the special interests that fund their elections.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe our state and federal government both need a thorough scrubbing to eliminate waste and unneeded departments. But giving away taxpayer dollars is not the correction I would recommend.

It’s getting ridiculous. Satisfying campaign contributors has already trashed our national economy, and has for a long time driven Wisconsin’s personal and business taxes out of sight.

There are two expenses that businesses should not incur, and for exactly the same reason. Taxes and health care (and related administrative costs) are simply passed on to consumers in the price of the product. We taxpayers pay 50% more for the mere pleasure of sticking it to corporations.

Both should be a zero burden on corporations because they make them uncompetitive with those in other countries that are not faced with them. As a result US companies must cut jobs or outsource manufacturing and services. This is absolutely stupid.

Those opposing healthcare reform are usually insurance industry CEOs and sales brokers, because they are the make-work middlemen pocketing the cash. Unfortunately, many non-insurance executives can’t see the forest through the trees. Their business “partners” from the insurance sector are dipping into their health care wallets, in some cases to make up for losses in other areas like Katrina and the stock market. It is a total waste.

The smartest thing we could do — both as a nation and business community — is to switch to a single-payer Medicare-for-all system of health care. As a Medicare patient and former CEO, I think it’s great. I get sick, I get care and the caregiver gets paid. I go to the same private hospital and physician I have for years; they just send the bill to Medicare instead. I just don’t deal with the insurance company.

Every US citizen should have this level of care, including politicians. If they want anything outside of the norm, like cosmetic surgery, they can pay for it on the outside the old-fashioned, free-market way; with cash dollars.

A Medicare-for-all system would not only save consumers $400 billion per year; it would save every US Corporation $6500 per employee per year in health care premiums. How’s that for a bailout?  But this one isn’t going to just the bankers.

Ask the Big Three how important that is; they now manufacture more cars in Canada because they only pay $800 per employee. And 80% of Canadians prefer their healthcare system to ours, even with their wait times. But since we spend twice what they do, wait times will not be an issue.

So the government has done some pretty stupid things and they’ll continue doing stupid things on healthcare because the insurance industry has given congress $46 million in campaign contributions. What else would you expect them to do?  Money talks!

That insurance bureaucracy is draining 31% of healthcare costs… money that should instead be spent on physicians, nurses and hospitals.

Unless the business community steps in and demands a single payer fix we are doomed for years of the same. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold must pressure Max Baucus and the Finance Committee to put single-payer on the table, and they must be encouraged to co-sign Bernie Sanders’ SB703 (the senate version of HR676). Only then can our economy turn around the way it should.

– Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate and publishes http://MoneyedPoliticians.net. He authored “Politicians – Owned and Operated by Corporate America” and can be reached at jelohman@gmail.com.

10 Responses to Business Community must get behind single-payer health insurance

  1. Ken Van Doren says:

    Jack:

    I have tried and failed to get you to see the danger and illogic of your position. Monopolies are almost universally a bad thing. Politics is ALWAYS corrupt. And you want to turn over 1/6th of our economy to a den of thieves??? And most of the problems of our medical system are a result of previous government interventions. Seems obvious-limited government means lower costs, more innovation, lower taxes, more competition in health care and in other market sectors. But you persist in pursuing folly…

    But what of this. You apparently are an enemy of freedom. I would never endorse your position, but if you allow “opt out” provisions, so any person or any institution that does not want to participate be allowed to, and with that, pay a lower tax rate. That way your system and the (somewhat) free market can compete. Oh, and if we opt out, we do not have to pay the higher taxes your proposal would require.

    So do you believe we should be a free people? NO? I did not think so….

  2. Ken, of course I’m for “freedom,” but I am also not so ideologically blind as to discard pragmatism.

    Yes, if 100% of American citizens were 100% honest, your system of freedom would work. But I hate to break it to you, we have crooks among us and we need regulations. Now there, I’ve popped your balloon.

    And yes, I could even buy your “opt out” of the public health care system if I knew that when you got old and sick and unemployed and in need of help, or one of your kids was diagnosed with childhood diabetes or other disease that the for-profit insurers wouldn’t cover, you wouldn’t then be able to go onto the public dole after not paying into the system. But that’s not what happens in America. Even progressives have “values.”

  3. Scott Carlo says:

    Thanks Jack for a succinct outline of how our politicians are fast at work burying the American dream. The “Big Three” 2 of whom are bankrupt, are known, not as car companies, but as health insurance companies who make cars so great is their burden in healthcare costs. Yet Obama doesn’t wish to “disrupt” the broken healthcare system we now have fast draining away the competitive advantage we, as the hardest working populace in the world, once enjoyed. Well, John Kennedy had to be persuaded to support the civil rights legislation he once resisted and I suppose single payer will be the same for Barack. He might not yet understand but should he champion and pass single payer it’ll be the most durable legacy of his presidency eclipsing even his achievement of the first African American to hold this highest office in America.

  4. Yea, Scott, you are right. If Obama pushed this and campaign reform through we’d have Decocratic control for at least two decades. But I really don’t know if the senate is smart enough. Baucus and others are so tied into insurance dollars that they may kill their chances. And Kohl and Feingold are just sitting it out.

    And disruptive? How difficult would it be to start enrolling patients into Medicare. Could you have misunderstood him? It would certainly disrupt the cash flow to the insurance industry. :-)

  5. Jack:
    Good work on the article at Business Times. Maggie Maher over at the blog “Health Beat” has an independent film coming out called “Money-driven Medicen” based on her book of the same title. You might want to watch for that.

    Also, who is your book publisher? Are you satisfied with them?

  6. Thanks John. I have read Maggie’s excellent book and anxiously await the movie. It will be good, and we need to get the politicians to watch it.

    My book is self-published, mainly because I could and didn’t want to spend the year finding a publisher. I’d do it in soft cover next time, however.

    If you send your address by email, to jelohman@gmail.com, I’ll be happy to send you a copy.

  7. [...] about health care. It affects every societal law and taxpayer dollar spent. It will also drive the success or failure of our business community. But our nation’s Board of Directors is taking cash bribes from the people that want in [...]

  8. [...] We need a decision that makes the most sense to the economy and health of America – not to the insurance industry that has been draining business and public resources for years. Clearly, the business community must get behind single-payer health insurance. [...]

  9. [...] Medicare-for-all system makes sense not just for our citizens, but even more so for our businesses who are now spending 15% of wages to pay for health care. They cannot compete with foreign product [...]

  10. As a business owner, business advisor, and MBA faculty member, I can’t imagine a business (outside the healthcare industry) that wouldn’t want a single payer system to decouple employment, business, and health insurance.

    As a small business, we spend 20-60 hours per hear dealing with health insurance. Why does this burden fall on our business? I don’t mind the financial responsibility if that falls on all citizens according to their means.

    You can read more about my thoughts on my blog at:

    http://greencpa.blogspot.com/2009/12/health-insurance-burden-on-business.html

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