Single Payer Health Care – Better Health, Better Wages

Casey Glenn

I am an unemployed New Yorker who developed health problems while working in a health care setting. My observations come from the fact that I was insured and health care was available to me, but was so ineffective and expensive it was of no benefit to me when I most needed it. I believe the current, insurance profit driven system contributes to the following effects that prevent good health care or quality of life for most New Yorkers, especially low-income or uninsured workers, and fixed income seniors and unemployed citizens:

Employers: the economic effects that lower wages, hiring and staffing levels, contribute to a climate of job insecurity and to a culture of suspicion towards workers’ health-related rights; insurance cost-cutting policies that shift the burden of supporting workers’ health onto publicly funded agencies; lip service to health and safety of easily replaced workers; policies that encourage poor communication between administration and staff regarding workers health-related rights, and which discourage workers from seeking information about rights; forcing our of less healthy or aging workers to hold down benefits.

Providers: excessive gatekeeping hurdles that prevent timely healthcare delivery to patients (overly repetitive and excessive patient history forms, pre-registration requirements for test and physician visits), ordering tests and treatments and making referrals based on payment sources of patients; pressure to gather and give predetermined information while avoiding explicit discussion of diagnoses with patients; corrupt sharing of information and unintelligible HIPAA rights; a culture of suspicion toward patients asserting healthcare rights due to misinformation about medical liability risk.

Insurers: pressure to produce profit in poor economy by deferring payments and reducing real coverage; marketing and business practices that promote and substitute preventive care education for actual diagnostic treatment in the guide of best practices or health coaching; corrupt sharing of information with other insurance product divisions with conflicting interests, propaganda from insurance representatives promoting the idea that you the worker and your fellow employees drive up your own premium rates by your personal health choices; descriptions of plan coverage for preventive health screens which obscure ultimate costs.

Economic pressures and health politics discourage low-income workers from voicing health concerns about their workplace. They cultivate workplace attitudes and policies which force workers to choose between health and job and/or health and advancement, or subtly require them to divulge personal health information to staff for ambiguous purposes. Only 1% benefit from this situation. We foot the bill for the rest of the poor healthcare fallout.

Employers and providers have no alternative but to avoid the most costly (i.e. the most compassionate) coverage and policies, in order to survive. A Single Payer plan would ease the burden on local governments, employers and providers, and lead to better health for workers and better economic health for New York. As New York’s population ages, it is especially vital to maintain the health of health care workers. Only a Single Payers system can make this possible.





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