Vermont is in the lead to install America’s first single payer health insurance program. On March 25th, 2011 the Vermont House of Representatives voted 92-49 in favor of this bill.
“Become the first state in the country to make the first substantive step to deliver a health care system where health care will be a right and not a privilege,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The bill will be called Green Mountain Care if it can pass the Senate. The new health bill will essentially create a separate, independent board that sets the rates and budgets for this program.
The Republicans are obviously against this bill.
“What they hope is that the public won’t find out the truth,” said Rep. Tom Burditt, R-West Rutland. “There’s nothing compassionate about socialism.”
A social safety net enables working class, average Americans to take more risk. Many people in this country are not wealthy, and thus do not have their own inherited safety net like Paris Hilton.
Let’s take a high wire act for example; most people will not walk the tight rope that is over 4 feet in the air without some sort of apparatus to catch them if they fall. These same people will increase their risk if a safety net was beneath them, therefore increase risk taking.
Many middle class people would love to start their own business, but due to the extreme risk many are scared. They are reluctant to start the business mostly because of the capital investment and the issue of health coverage.
The biggest cost to a business is healthcare and labor. If the cost of providing healthcare to all of your employees is approximately 20K dollars, that is a big expense. With a single payer healthcare system all businesses would have to pay a tax. If that tax is about 10K dollars extra, but you are no longer paying the 20K dollar premium under the private plan, you save 10k dollars.
Let’s take Wal-Mart as an example. Wal-Mart health insurance coverage lags far behind the national average. Nationally, 64% of workers in very large firms (5,000 employees or more) receive their benefits from their employer. Wal-Mart covers around 50% of its employees. [Employer Health Benefits 2007 Annual Survey, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust; Wal-Mart press release, 1/22/08].
Wal-Mart offers poverty level wages. Using Wal-Mart’s figures, a “full-time” employee at 34 hours per week, making the Wal-Mart average wage of $10.86 per hour, will earn $19,200.48 per year. The federal government’s definition of poverty for a family of four in the contiguous United States is $21,200. [2008 Wal-Mart Employee Handbook; 2008 HHS Poverty Guidelines]
At that wage level, many Wal-Mart employees can not afford to pay for Wal-Mart’s premiums, so they go on state provided health insurance. So we have full time employees on state health care and the big retailer doesn’t pay for it. With the single payer system, Wal-Mart would have to pay a tax. No more Medicaid provided by the states that Wal-Mart can dump employees into. That would reduce state income taxes exceptionally, if single payer were implemented at the federal level.
In the coming years you will see more and more businesses, small and large, leaving the states they are in and going to Vermont to take advantage of this program. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford and GM move some of their production plants from Canada to Vermont. If labor costs are the same and taxes and regulations are approximately the same I do not see why this couldn’t happen.
One of the biggest cost to healthcare in this country is CEO compensation. How much of your premium goes toward a CEO’s salary rather than actually covering procedures and care itself?
In the case of William W McGuire, former CEO of United Healthcare, his compensation was $124.8 million for one year, 2005 and 5-Year Compensation Total: $342,284 thousand according to Forbes. This is one person and he is making decisions based on profitability, not your health.
A single payer system in Vermont will attract many businesses and be the start up business capital of New England, if not the country.
Vermont will be at full employment and it will be a shining example of what could have happened to the United States if progressives were in charge.