Nice Time Study! Medicare For All Would Create Lots Of Jobs And Increase Wages
If the COVID-19 outbreak has proven anything, it is that when someone tells you that you can't touch your face, your face immediately becomes extremely itchy all of the time. Well, that and our current healthcare system is not at all equipped to deal with a situation like this. It's just not. It barely makes sense to begin with, but in terms of trying to control a contagion of any kind, it is definitely very, very stupid and unhelpful.
And yet, people are still probably more nervous about the idea of single-payer Medicare for All, largely because of the way people who are opposed to it for reasons have spent a lot of time and effort making sure people are very nervous about it.
One of the things that's been brought up a lot is the idea that all of these people currently working in the insurance industry, on billing for doctors offices, will lose their jobs. And that's fair! It's something we should all be concerned about, and that is why advocates of Medicare for All, including both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have long talked about a "just transition" for those working in that industry to the public sector.
But another thing to consider is a new study published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank that analyzes the economic impact of policies and proposals, which says that Medicare for All would help create a lot of jobs, increase wages for many, many Americans, and lead to a better functioning labor market in general.
According to the EPI, Medicare for All would:
- Boost wages and salaries by allowing employers to redirect money they are spending on health care costs to their workers' wages.
- Increase job quality by ensuring that every job now comes bundled with a guarantee of health care—with the boost to job quality even greater among women workers, who are less likely to have employer-sponsored health care.
- Lessen the stress and economic shock of losing a job or moving between jobs by eliminating the loss of health care that now accompanies job losses and transitions.
- Support self-employment and small business development—which is currently super low in the U.S. relative to other rich countries—by eliminating the daunting loss of/cost of health care from startup costs.
- Inject new dynamism and adaptability into the overall economy by reducing "job lock"—with workers going where their skills and preferences best fit the job, not just to workplaces (usually large ones) that have affordable health plans.
- Produce a net increase in jobs as public spending boosts aggregate demand, with job losses in health insurance and billing administration being outweighed by job gains in provision of health care, including the expansion of long-term care.
These things are really, really important.If you've always worked super normal 9-to-5 jobs for large companies, there are some things you might not be particularly hep to. When I worked in retail, I worked primarily for small businesses, and although I was management, I could not work more than 39 hours a week (or had to officially clock out after 39 hours a week, which ... I was not thrilled about) because if I worked 40 hours a week the owner would have to pay for health care. This is the case for a lot of people who work hourly jobs. It's tough on both sides. My bosses weren't just being stingy jerks, but we were in the middle of a recession, sales were down and they couldn't afford it.
Everyone just automatically having health care would make it exponentially easier for people to strike out on their own, start small businesses and hire people to work for them. It would allow them to have a chance to compete with larger companies for qualified people. It would also make it easier for people to work freelance. As the study mentions, it would make it a whole lot less scary to lose a job or get laid off, especially if you have a family. I mean, sure, there's COBRA, but COBRA is ridiculous. When I was laid off by Spinmedia, my COBRA payments were $650 a month. Kind of hard for people to afford that when they don't have a job!
There's always a lot of talk about how small businesses are good for the economy — and they really are — and this is one of the big things standing in the way of allowing people to start them. We say we love freedom in America, and what's more freeing than that?
This study, combined with the other recent study coming out of Yale that showed that Medicare for All would cost 13 percent less than what we are paying now and save over 68,000 lives per year, along with this coronavirus situation, show that single payer Medicare for All is not so much a silly pie-in-the-sky idea for idealistic hippies who don't understand how the real world works, and more of a pragmatic solution to what is obviously a system that is not working out very well.
Whoever the Democratic nominee is, he (sigh, he) the American people should push him to embrace this incredibly common-sense solution. You know, if he doesn't happen to already.
As a bonus, under a Medicare for All system, when a bear eats your face off, you don't have to pay $250,000 for the privilege.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse