The Intertwining of Work and Healthcare.

Why the two should never, ever mix.

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Photo via Drew Beamer on Instagram

Out of all the developed nations in the world, it’s difficult to argue against the idea that the healthcare system in the United States is among the most flawed, even brutal. With healthcare and the notion of implementing a Medicare for All system taking center stage in this 2020 primary season among Democrats, more of the centrist, moderate candidates have been scrambling to come up with reasons not to put such a system in place.

After hurling a seemingly endless barrage of right wing talking points at the wall in search of some that stick, one that those against Medicare for All seem to have found effective is the idea that people like the private health insurance offered by their employer. As ridiculous as that is, at the very least it has prompted people all across the country to stop and consider what it has been like for them to live within the confines of a system where they are dependent upon an employer for their health insurance.

The reality is that if we lived in a just, moral world healthcare and work would never mix, and for a variety of reasons.

Frankly, the very concept of tying our health insurance to our employer is yet another cruel residual effect of a capitalist system that has entrenched itself so deeply in to nearly every aspect of our lives. A concept designed to ensure that workers are far more reluctant to leave their workplace regardless of the conditions, out of fear of losing such a vital necessity to our financial security and health.

In the richest nation on earth, we are one illness or accident away from going financially bankrupt due to medical bills, so there’s really no wonder that health insurance plays such a crucial role in our working decisions. And yet it forcefully ties us to corporations and business entities in a way that should be entirely unnecessary, and that other developed nations see as bizarre and even inhumane. No one should have to fear that they or their children or spouse will lose health insurance if they want to make a career change, or simply leave a negative workplace environment in search of somewhere else where they might be even a little bit happier.

That being said, it is not just concerns for the worker that this intertwining of health insurance and employment has left at a disadvantage.

In a nation that takes pride in small businesses that line the main streets of little towns all across the country, if we want them to thrive why on earth would we make them responsible for the health insurance of their employees?

As if running a successful small business wasn’t difficult or stressful enough, to burden a small business that employs a handful of people with the costs of providing health insurance for their employees and their families seems to be counterproductive to say the least. If we actually want to see small businesses employ more people in their communities, taking the cost of insurance out of the equation for them seems to be a good place to start. The money saved could be invested not only in new hiring, but in community outreach and technological advancement among other things as well.

In reality, mixing healthcare with work only benefits multimillion dollar corporations and the executives who run them. After all, retaining an employee is far cheaper than training a new one, and you’ll have workers far more hesitant to leave if they know they’ll lose their health insurance, too. Not only that, these corporations are able to drive out the small businesses this country claims to love by ensuring that these small business employees will leave for a company that is able to provide them with healthcare. Or, they simply won’t chose to seek employment there if they aren’t offered insurance.

Capitalism is fundamentally cruel overall, but the combination of work and health insurance is arguably one of the cruelest aspects of it here in the United States.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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