By Manifesto Joe
I sometimes hate to use the term "unintended consequences," because what comes to mind is those free-market-dogma economists. But sometimes the term is descriptive, and it seems that way now after health care "reform."
I'm staunchly for single-payer, and a new development makes it look more like that was essentially a no-brainer: Corporations are being advised, somewhat subtly, to eventually terminate their health care benefits, cutting employees loose to seek out taxpayer-subsidized health care insurance on their own after the "pools" are available in 2014.
I suppose it wasn't hard to see that one coming. Corporations have a reputation for being amoral money machines, and they didn't acquire that rep for nothing. Tell them any way that they can maximize profits, and they will do it. Walk over someone's grandmother? It's a dirty job; but have faith, they'll find someone who will. If CEO No. 1 won't, rest assured that CEO No. 2 will. It's said to be a legal obligation.
The talk about the end of job-based health care insurance is just beginning. But as soon as it can be done, rest assured that you will see the Fortune 500 forming a line on this one. Here's a link to an early article on this from AP. There are a lot of pros and cons being tossed about now, but just wait ...
Sit back and envision the scenario. Millions upon millions of American workers will be cut loose from their employer-based plans, forced to go with those subsidized plans that will be available starting in 2014. It's just good business, Corporate Rob, the company spokesman, will tell the press. And hey, now we can afford to give our workers a raise instead, so that they can afford to go insurance-shopping on their own.
But then comes the question I and many others have long been asking: Why did we need a middle man in the first place? Private insurers will offer these plans, helped by federal subsidies. Why didn't we just do single-payer in the first place, since it looks like we'll have to go there eventually anyway?
It wasn't, and ultimately won't be, feasible to leave things as they were, with 47 million Americans uninsured. In other countries of the developed world, people have long thought that we were insane to keep on with the status quo as long as we did.
But if it's going to come to this, wouldn't it have been easier just to make Medicare available to everyone, not just people 65 and older?
I can already hear the fretting out there about big government. And I will grant, the federal government doesn't have a reputation for being the most efficient provider of services.
But, insurance companies do? When was the last time you had to deal with one? Oh, I suppose you could call them "efficient," at least when it comes to their own profits. They definitely know how to tell people "no." And then no some more. And no again. And by the way, no. But of course, they never say no to taking people's money.
Now in the works to perhaps hasten this change is the mania to cut the federal deficit. Instead of the obvious -- raising taxes on rich people and big corporations, who have been getting preferential treatment in the system for decades now, anyway -- a certain tax break is being scrutinized.
Tax breaks have long helped employers provide what health insurance benefits that they do. That credit looks to be on the chopping block, with President Obama's deficit commission proposing to limit or eliminate that deduction. Here's a link to the story.
It's like watching the perfect storm forming. In less than a decade, employer-based health insurance may become the exception, not the rule, and millions of workers will be forced to shop for insurance through the "pools." That is, they will do so assuming that the Republican U.S. House and the Tea Party don't find a way to keep Obamacare from being implemented.
I was reluctantly for Obamacare as an alternative to doing nothing. But now the current overhaul looks like it will merely be a sort of midwife for a very troubled pregnancy and delivery.
Single-payer is where this is all headed, and the insurance bastards will fight that to their last breath. When that battle happens, at least the American people may be privileged to see very clearly what this is all about -- the massive profits of a large sector of Corporate America. If it wasn't already clear that these people are nasty little bloodsuckers, it finally will be.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.