Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Get rid of employer-based health care - Do it for the entrepreneurs!

As has been hinted at several times on Page 132, I'd love to get out of the classroom. 8 years feels like enough. So next year, I'd like to do something different. One option is for me to do a fellowship or internship. However, there is a lot more that goes into my calculations than just job satisfaction. One concern is health care benefits. If I take an unpaid internship for 3 months or even a paid year long fellowship, no one is offering health care benefits. That means I'd have to foot the bill entirely for any medical expenses I incur.

That's a big risk. In fact, probably too big a risk for me. I'd probably slog through another year of teaching rather than risk my wife's health.

The world may not need another talking head in the education policy world, so my inertia probably isn't that big of a deal. However, what if I had a wonderful idea? What if I had a product or service that would make life easier for everyone, but would require me to quit my job to make it happen? I'd be stuck with an impossible choice - role the dice on health care or possibly miss an opportunity of a lifetime.

It seems to me that for the sake of America's economic future, we need to move away from employer-based health care and to a system that guarantees health care for all. That way, the next Jeff Bezos or Fred Smith can take the gigantic risk of starting a new business without playing Russian roulette with his and his family's health.

I'm not the only voice on this. Entrepreneurs themselves are speaking out and weighing the costs of an employer-based health care system.

Updated Buried half-way down the USA Today post is this money quote "[Ohio economist Alison Wellington] estimated in a 2001 study that the USA's self-employment rate would rise by as much as 3.5 percentage points if universal health coverage was available. That would have boosted self-employment last month in the non-farm private sector by about 3.8 million workers, based on July's Labor Department count."