Medicare For All is Actually Good For Unions, and Here’s Why.
Single payer healthcare benefits union workers in a number of ways.
As Bernie Sanders emerges from the still fairly crowded field of democratic candidates vying for the presidential nomination, the critiques of Medicare for All in relation to unions has come up once again in the discourse surrounding the election. Some union leaders have expressed the view that Medicare for all would do away completely with the healthcare benefits they fought so hard for. While being concerned about the healthcare benefits of workers is entirely understandable, the reality is that Medicare for All would actually have an incredibly positive impact in a number of ways for unions moving forward.
In understanding why Medicare for All would be a benefit for unions, we must first understand what Medicare for All actually entails for the healthcare industry. Bernie’s Medicare for All plan over the course of four years would legislate health insurance companies out of existence, and replace it with a tax payer funded single payer insurance system that would expand on Medicare to cover all healthcare, dental, and vision services making them free at the point of service for every American. A system like this, while indeed paid for by taxes, would actually save the vast majority of Americans a significant amount of money each year by doing away with premiums, copays, and deductibles. It also means that no American or their family member would lose health insurance if they lost their job or quit their job.
Medicare for All would take all the burden of negotiating for healthcare benefits away from unions, making it entirely unnecessary. This would free Union leaders up both in leverage and in time to negotiate on other issues such as salary or workplace conditions for workers. The money saved by taking the burden of healthcare away from the employer is something Unions can then negotiate to put towards money that their workers make. Not only that, in many cases the Medicare for All single payer insurance covers everything, making the healthcare that union workers receive even better than what they had previously.
I fully understand that healthcare benefits are a hard fought battle that union leaders worked for, but wouldn’t it be even better if it was a battle that no longer had to be fought at all? As more and more workers consider who they’re going to be voting for, it’s important for all of us to reflect on what a positive impact Medicare for All would have on workers both unionized and non-unionized. Replacing our profit-driven insurance system that has been nothing but a hassle for union leaders, workers, and employers alike with a system that would give all Americans something far better both when it comes to coverage and cost is something that all American workers should think about when entering the voting booth or caucus site.