A Single Healthcare System Internalizes Costs that Corporations Would Like to Externalize

And that’s a good thing.

This is a really good point I haven’t seen mentioned much in discussions of healthcare insurance funding (boldface mine):

We need universal health care because we cannot sue enough companies to pay for all of the health challenges presented by the things we do, the things we make and the things we consume. We’re simply not smart enough to anticipate every contingency resulting from our own actions. Even if we tried to sue for relief from the companies that foul the environment, in most cases, We The People, would be buried in motion practice in our own courts, which most of us cannot afford to attend, much less defend ourselves in. The courts have been turned on their heads to defend money, not the people.

A tax for universal health care, properly imposed, would be small relative to the personal cost of health care because it would touch everything, every source of income from anywhere on earth that shows up in a bottom line, somewhere. And everyone would be covered, rich or poor, it wouldn’t matter. We are not free agents in a bag of skin. We are a society of human beings that, in the end, must care for each other for the survival of the species. There is no other way.

But there is another reason to support universal health care with a small universal tax on every form of income, with no cap like there is with Social Security. A universal tax means that there is no way to shift the burden to someone else of health care to someone else. If a business makes a product and that product turns out to be a popular product but imposes stress on the environment, or it makes us sick, the cost is covered by universal health care. The cost of caring for those made sick by the products we create won’t require litigation to recover when the tax for health care is universal.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not proposing any limits to the liability of business for their effluents. I’m proposing that such a tax could also fund the litigation needed to stop the worst polluters and put the liability where it belongs — on the polluter.

We still think of healthcare insurance as a distinct good, not something that all of us pay for, one way or another. When kids are poisoned by lead in Flint–or D.C.–there are tremendous costs to that, which businesses usually can dump on someone else (that would be you and me). A single payer system, with a just funding mechanism, allows us to recoup at least some of the costs of dirty business (dirty is meant both literally and figuratively).

This entry was posted in Bidness, Healthcare, Public Health. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Single Healthcare System Internalizes Costs that Corporations Would Like to Externalize

  1. Steve Black says:

    For a long time I thought all countries would have universal healthcare. Then I grew up wishing I was right.

  2. elkern says:

    Good angle which I hadn’t heard before; thx. (tried to read the original, but got Error message from Medium?). Related issue: controlling costs for any public health-care system might imply taxation of risky behaviors like smoking, base jumping, junk food, biking… how do the civilized countries set the boundaries for those things?

    • dr2chase says:

      Or driving your car to work, or the zoning that forces you to drive until you qualify. There have been studies on the health effects of driving vs biking to work, it’s at least a 25% bump in your annual mortality risk if you drive, with similar increases in risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc. Sum that over 85% of employed population, that’s a lot of early death and disability that currently is not charged to the organizations that promote it.

Comments are closed.