For Labor, the More Government Healthcare the Better
With the prospect of a single payer system long dead, and Americans hesitant to embrace the public option, which is neither a public company nor is it likely to remain “optional,” Democrats, and subsequently labor unions, are looking for new ways to get people insured through the government.
For Democrats, the burning desire to have a bureaucrat control your healthcare has manifested itself in two Senate bills: The so-called “opt-out bill,” where states will have the option of leaving a public plan, and the “trigger bill,” where insurance companies will have to meet certain targets within the next few years or else a public option kicks in.
Although not ideal, labor views both these bills as steps in the right direction, both creating a public option. Unions flourish within governmental bureaucracy and the lack of accountability inherent in such programs, 36.8% of public sector workers are unionized vs. 7.6% of private workers.
Private businesses are forced to maximize efficiency or risk losing money and customers to other businesses. Unlike private businesses, many government programs were not created to be profitable leaving them full of wasteful spending. Enter labor unions.
Imagine this possible scenario: The health care trigger bill is signed into law and sets reform targets for insurance companies that are unattainable, thus, a public option is created. A few years go by...and the public plan is costing more than expected, it is essentially bankrupt. However, with government programs, nothing is ever bankrupt. “Let’s tax something arbitrary to raise revenue for our mismanaged, insolvent public option...How about plastic bags!” said one Democratic Senator to another. Then the millions of dollars stolen from people who buy groceries and use bags, shame on you, are used to fund the public option.
How does this mindboggling system benefit labor? Unions, almost innately it seems, charge higher rates for service. In a company that cannot fail, like a government health insurer, there is little incentive to keep costs down; the government will always cut you another check. A governmental guarantee eliminates the disadvantage a company incurs when hiring more expensive union workers, there is no reason not to hire union workers. Unions will be able to demand higher wages and benefits with little resistance from politicians, it is easier to appease then fight with unions. These inflated benefits will have the additional advantage of making it easier to recruit new union workers.
Union raises are not free; they increase the operational cost of health insurance. Raises will be passed to customers and who will be stuck paying higher premiums for their service.
Under a single payer plan, the coveted delivery system of healthcare for many Democrats, these problems are only magnified. All healthcare workers would, in essence, be government employees. Americans would pay into the government healthcare plan which then compensates doctors, nurses, and every other healthcare worker. Currently, unionization rates for the public sector are around five times that of private workers. Should the American health care industry be nationalized, there is no reason to think that unions wouldn’t be able to organize new, essentially, government employees more easily.
Although this may seem abstract, a look at Canada’s public health care system shows exactly this. With America’s current private health care system, the percentage of unionized health care workers is remarkably smaller in the in Canada’s public plan. Only 18% of U.S. nurses are unionized while 78% of Canadian nurses are unionized. As a whole, 61% of Canadian health care workers belong to unions compared to 11% in the United States. These numbers should leave little doubt whether government health care facilitates unionization. If a single payer system wasn’t scary enough, think about government run health care implemented by unions. Yikes...