One of the arguments against health care reform is that it is “job-killing” (wait, destroying) because it will force small businesses and individuals to purchase health care when they can’t afford it– preventing expansion, hiring, etc.
Here’s a different way to look at it. Detaching health care from employment by offering affordable insurance options for individuals will create a more favorable environment for innovation and the development of small businesses.
Of the 50 million uninsured Americans (16% of the U.S. population), 39% are between the ages of 19 and 34. It’s all very well and good not to have health care when you’re 25 and have no assets for hospitals to collect when you default on your debts.
It’s quite different when you’re 35 and you own a home, have a partner or possibly a little one running around. Giving up employment-based health insurance for a family is a little different than taking risks for yourself.
The growth of our economy depends on executing innovative ideas. No creative software developer has achieved a $4 million pre-money valuation when they’re thinking about the costs of prenatal health care. I have many friends who won’t leave their jobs, even though they might like to try something new or pursue a dream, because they have kids, or because they provide health insurance for their partner.
Our failure as a society to provide every person with affordable access to health care is repressing our economic growth by keeping creative, adventurous and responsible people tethered to institutional jobs.
The issue is not unemployment. More than 8 in 10 uninsured Americans are members of working households (households in which more than one member is employed). Businesses can’t afford to provide it for their employees and less-than-affluent people can’t afford to purchase it for themselves.
When every American is required to purchase health care, that will (at least theoretically) bring insurance prices down by spreading the costs of health care across the entire population.
Making access to affordable health insurance universal will make experimentation and risky business behavior slightly less risky. If health insurance is less expensive, the marginal cost of hiring additional employees will be lower, encouraging hiring and job creation.
Furthermore, with improved access to affordable health care, it’s one less thing to worry about when considering starting a business or testing a new idea.
In summary, in addition to meeting basic criteria for a caring society, creating a universal health care society will unleash the fearless power of great ideas.