Chris Graham: A funny thing happened on the way to socialized medicine

Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Read Bruce Kesler’s column, “The Fannie-ization of Health Care.”

As a small-business owner, I think I know why our country is falling behind our competitors in the rest of the industrialized world where some version of universal health care is not the exception, but the rule.

We in the business sector are still expected to include among the compensation packages that we offer our employees the benefit of health insurance. And in doing so we are alone in the industrialized world.

What does that mean to our bottom lines? Everything. First and foremost, it means that dollars that should be going to payroll and research and development and marketing and sustainability are going to a line item that our competitors in Europe and Asia and South America don’t even have to think about.

Now, for me and my small business, it’s not the international competition that is the end of the world, given that our focus is on the domestic market, not the global market. It doesn’t cost me $1,500 per new car for health insurance for the employees who work the assembly line like it does a GM that is trying to sell cars in a market with Japanese and Korean and European automakers who don’t have to pass similar costs to their customers, to cite one example of how health care impacts bottom lines. But that doesn’t make me immune to the challenges that our system provides the business sector. Because I’m competing for employees with bigger companies that can offer health benefits as an enticement to come to work with them.

For those who consider health coverage to be an essential to their quality of life, which is pretty much everybody, it can be a deal-breaker if basic health insurance is not part of the compensation package. And for me, covering the costs of health care for employees can be a deal-breaker as far as the long-term survivability of my business is concerned. So we’re bargaining with the devil in not offering health care to our employees that we’ll end up better off in the long run by committing the dollars that would go to insurance to grow our business.

Everything else about universal health care makes sense. Fifteen to twenty percent of the monies that we commit to health-care spending go to overhead that could be cut a half to two-thirds by slapping at the hands of those who charge an arm and a leg for the privilege of managing the costs of the system for us. And in the meantime, our businesses domestically and globally are made that much more competitive by taking the assumed responsibility for providing health insurance from the business sector to the public sector.

The one thing that doesn’t make sense is why we didn’t make this great leap a generation ago. Is it really that important to partisan Republicans to be able to play politics with what they like to refer to as “socialized medicine” that the rest of us should have to pay for their politics through a slower-growing economy and an artificially high aggregate health-care bill?

Here’s to hoping that they at some point in the near future truly do put Country First on health care and help our businesses regain something of an even footing with those in the rest of the world.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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