Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HCR Portability and Me

I spent the weekend amongst friends and family up in our neighbor to the north, Canada. While I was showering this morning I reflected on the visit, and on some of the conversations I had while I was there. As is typical with my family the talk turned to the political more than once, and there were several occasions when the US Healthcare system was discussed. But something that wasn't raised then, and isn't often elsewhere either, is the effect Healthcare portability could have on the economy at large.

This strikes close to home for me, as I've been only marginally employed for the past several months after being "impacted by Workforce Management" . And since this isn't the first time in my career that I've been on the sidelines, I tend to think about Healthcare portability often. Fact is, the tie-up of Healthcare with employers is an anchor on the mobility of workers. When coupled with the ever increasing management view that labor is a fungible commodity, this gives a large and undeserved negotiating lever to employers over the employed.

The HCR bills passed in the House and Senate would provide a salve for this situation. By requiring coverage without penalty for pre-existing conditions, the choice to leave a soul-killing job without having another immediately lined up becomes that much easier. By requiring large-pool individual purchase policies sold on exchanges, the incentives are in the right place for creating reasonably priced Healthcare on the open market. By taxing employers that don't provide employee insurance plans, there would be a more level playing field for comparing salary and benefit plans from one job to the next.

If it ever actually existed, the era of employment security is now long gone, and I do not mourn its passing. That said, many employees have been shackled to their jobs over Healthcare-related concerns for far too long, and many more have been cast adrift without adequate recourse as soon as their job and thus their Healthcare ended. Decoupling these links restores a small amount of power to the individual, where each person can decide to take or leave a job based on factors more relevant to their satisfaction and happiness. That should lead to greater productivity, more growth, and significantly higher quality of life.

Pass the Damn Bill Already.

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