Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

In America, starting a business may be only way to get health insurance

with 2 comments

What if you started a business — in the tradition of Seinfeld — that was about nothing?

You don’t buy anything or sell anything, you don’t make money or lose money. These days, not losing money could be success.

You might ask what would be the point of starting a business that does nothing. If you struggle to get health care insurance, starting your own business is very tempting.

If you are an individual trying to get health insurance without a job, you better be extremely healthy. If even the slightest thing is wrong with you, getting private health insurance is virtually impossible.

Unless you get a job.

Tying health insurance to a job is debilitating to a country’s economy, even when things are going well. As things are not going well, as states post double digit official unemployment figures, this inequity becomes a travesty.

People are stuck in jobs that don’t fit because of health insurance. Those without jobs have few choices once COBRA runs out, especially when COBRA ends because the former employer goes out of business.

Some states have last-resort funds, but they give you very little and take a lot of your money. And that is if you’re lucky.

If you go without health insurance, you are one moment away — accident or otherwise — from total financial ruin.

If you could pick which country you would live in right now, based on the ability to financially succeed, would you really pick the United States?

Since getting health insurance is so difficult for individuals, but not for corporations — and the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people, shouldn’t people have an easier time getting health insurance.

Since corporations have more rights to health insurance than people, then maybe we should start businesses to get health insurance.

Of course, starting a business that does nothing comes across as, well, unethical or illegal. The business could be about consultants. Yeah, that’s it. Hire a bunch of “consultants.” Nobody really knows what consultants do, and they get treated as if they have regular jobs.

And it’s not like we have to make something in this business. After all, Wall Street bankers make lots of money not making pr producing anything but profits for themselves.

Why have a warehouse full of widgets when we aren’t making widgets, or anything at all. No shipping costs, no labor, and certainly no overtime.

Unfortunately, this means no bonuses, no vacations, too. But we do get one thing: benefits.

That’s right: benefits. We can buy health insurance at reasonable rates. We aren’t subjected to humiliating paperwork or fear of the emergency room (at least from a financial standpoint). We can take all of our prescription medication instead of debating whether to buy the needed pills or pay the rent.

The one drawback is that in a regular job, the employer pays a good chunk of the cost of the policy. Whereas in our company, we pay 100% of the cost. But since our business will never go out of business, we won’t have the tragedy of suddenly having no health insurance because our former employer went out of business.

Imagine — this is the United States of America and thousands, if not millions, lose their health insurance because their employer or former employer goes belly up. If this isn’t the reason to change how we get our health insurance, then maybe we have no hope of change.

As Americans, we have plenty of things that we can be afraid of: foreclosure, Wall Street, oil spills in the Gulf, immigration, mid-term elections, presidential elections, hurricanes. Especially since 9/11, we have become a nation of worriers.

We never used to be a nation of worriers, and we never used to have to worry about health insurance. And this country’s citizens thrived more when we didn’t have to worry about health insurance.

When we had people who worked 30 years in a job, tying health insurance to the job wasn’t great, but looked okay. We don’t have that kind of world anymore. Tying health insurance to employment is counterproductive, and makes America not as good as it could be.

If conservatives want to argue that the government shouldn’t have a role in health care, well, employers shouldn’t be part of the process. If conservatives really want a private system, individuals have to be able to buy individual and family health insurance policies, even if they can become sick.

Conservatives talk about the power of the individual. Well, right now, in health insurance, individuals have no power. Corporations and businesses do. To get power in health insurance, either the system changes, or we all become individual businesses.


Written by democracysoup

May 28, 2010 at 8:27 am

2 Responses

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  1. Those who do not have jobs with few options oz COBRA runs out, especially when COBRA ends because the former employer goes out of business. Some states have funds of last resort, but give you very little and have a lot of money. After all, Wall Street bankers earn much money doing nothing but produce profits for themselves. Why have a warehouse full of widgets when you’re not making widgets, or anything.


    May 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

  2. Business owners certainly have an advantage with insurance. As a nation, we need to rethink the way we handle health insurance, in the private sector it’s very costly, and many families can’t afford it. COBRA is not a viable solution.


    May 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

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