Andy McKay

Apr 24, 2012

Health insurance in the US


Sometimes when I write blog posts I feel like a crazed conspiracy theorist. Locked away in a room connecting the dots. Finding news articles that added together seem so obviously wrong. They just don't make sense and trying to point out the weird things I see. Here's one.

All the ridiculous talk the last few years over health care, didn't seem to address job mobility and business competitiveness. In the US the burden for health care is very high on the employer. There are burdens on Canadian employers for health care (for example MSP or extra insurance), but they are no where near as high.

It will be rare for me to support a company like GM, but here goes:

Wouldnt this have been a great time for GM to say, we need a national health care program in order to stay viable?... Well it undoubtedly would help level the playing field for the industry
Think Progress
Health care costs add $1,525 to the price tag of every GM car; the company spent $4.6 billion on health care in 2007, more than it paid for steel.
Think Progress

That's a huge burden on a company. You could say it's due to all those big fat union contracts that GM used to have to hand out, or perhaps that's just what is needed to support workers in the US.

Its a burden to job mobility. Moving between jobs in the US isn't easy, leaving a company means a change in benefits.

The only way to solve the stickiness in the labor market, ... is to sever the link between jobs and health care
Business World

And even better if you switch, you might not get covered:

health insurers and employers are getting stricter about taking people with preexisting medical conditions onto their policies
Business World

During all the rubbish talked about health care and Obama care in the US I didn't hear this (in my admittedly limited coverage of the debate). But you'd think businesses would want this, you'd think they'd want to not have this burden.

I guess the money made in health care in the US is a bigger business with more lobbying power than all the other businesses. For me it seems to create a very odd level of friction in the economy that makes life harder for the US businesses to compete. Surely that would be helpful to the Republican cause. According to the White House docs on health care:

Reform would likely increase labor supply, remove unnecessary barriers to job mobility
White House

Just another one of those things that doesn't make sense to me.