As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Health Care and the Creative Class

Frontline did an excellent health care documentary exploring systems around the world. It made the case for single-payer, or at least a comprehensive system that's far preferable to the patchwork quilt we have in America, parts of which already exist here (Medicare, the VA, even the employer-based system). But I think that this ad touting Sen. Ron Wyden's Healthy Americans Act has the potential to make a far more lasting impact, simply because... it's funny, and that humor is a Trojan horse to lucidly explaining the idea that you are a slave to a job you can't leave for fear of losing your health insurance.

Other than the fact that the latte dispenser might not have health insurance from her employer to begin with, this is a key concept that Americans can grasp. Ezra Klein explains further:

What Wyden's video does is take aim at the weaknesses of employer-based health care: You may have it now, but if you lose your job, you can't keep it. in other words, your boss owns your health care. Which means you may have to stay in a job you hate, sucking up to managers you loathe, doing work you despise, all because Jenny needs braces. Far better, says Wyden, to have a world in which you own your insurance, a world in which you can keep it no matter the professional path you choose, and a world in which a fool supervisor doesn't control your access to your medical care. That's a world where employees have a whole lot more bargaining power, and can focus their energies on bettering their job rather than keeping their insurance. But it's also a world that's different than this one, and that scares people. The fight Wyden's picking isn't an easy one, but it's very worthy. And the video, I have to say, is surprisingly funny.

As the creative class matures and works on all of these separate issues, there is a lot of potential there to upset assumptions and really look at issues like this in a different way. Severing the employer-based system and replacing it with a model like Wyden's, which regulates markets so that individuals (who get the money that flowed into health benefits into their paychecks) can choose a plan with basic coverage at a set price, is going to take a lot of idea formation like this. Kudos to Wyden for moving the ball forward.

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