My health insurance for myself and my family ran out in October. So, in December, I needed to enroll in a new healthcare provider. Without a company to sponsor me I had to enroll in the government option which in this case was Friday Health Care. Besides the fact that these guys were new in the market and hardly a brand name, I went ahead. I have a family of three and it cost $965/month for the bronze plan which basically provides me with no healthcare. That's right, my healthcare provider only provides me with catastrophic health care because I have an $8,550 deductible. Essentially, I will get healthcare if I have a heart attack, cancer or some other major debilitating disease or a Tiger Woods moment. This means that the hospital does not have to worry about me filing bankruptcy to get out of paying the bill. Essentially, my healthcare is for the hospital not for me. Now, our family has an annual deductible of $17,000 so there is that.
The first problem is that if you are unemployed, like me, then this healthcare is the equivalent of $6/hour. How can someone who is unemployed pay this rate? It's ludicrous. My rent is $1,600 a month so between the two, I have to make $11/hr just to pay to live. If I want to eat, drive a car, live a little, I need more than $15/hr for my family. The math is simple and it is the same for everyone. Sure, I could move into a trailer or a coffin and reduce my rent, I choose to spend my savings for now.
That brings us to two points. The first point is that we need to change how we pay and deliver healthcare, the insurance companies can go hang themselves. The second thing is that we need to recognize that $7.25/hour does not cover expenses. One can debate all day about the appropriate minimum wage, unreported inflation makes that a real issue for most Americans. The first problem is how we pay for health care. Right now, people get healthcare through their employer trapping them in jobs they hate. Further, to add insult to injury, we pay for it through payroll deductions even when we don't have healthcare. That's just wrong. The rest of the world pays for it with a National Sales Tax called a VAT. So, let's end payroll taxes for healthcare along with state co-pays and just create a National Sales Tax. Everybody pays and everybody benefits. We then extend Medicare and Medicaid to all Americans. We already have the system and working Americans are already paying for it. To me, this is a no-brainer. Secondly, we raise the minimum wage, pick a number.
The dilemma with raising the minimum wage is people will work under-the-table and bypass it. That can be our undocumented workers or ordinary citizens. What we need to do is first enforce our labor laws and second enforce our immigration laws. There are those who will say that's not very humane. Well, neither is forcing American citizens to go without jobs because you gave their job to an uninvited guest. Some people will talk about undesirable work; raise the salary, maybe it will be more desirable. Enforcing immigration laws and putting Americans to work does not end the work-permit process, just the non-legal process. Let's put Americans first, both in healthcare and in their paychecks. Once we take care of our own, we can then talk about the rest of the world.