BY MARK Y.A. DAVIES
In his desperation to erase any progress made by President Obama and to please his religious base, Trump has now declared that he will no longer enforce the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires employer based healthcare insurance to include free birth control. Under Trump’s new rules, both non-profit organizations and for profit companies will be allowed to opt out of providing free birth control for their women employees based on religious and/or moral reasons.
Trump’s attacks against and sabotage of ObamaCare in general and his most recent decision to allow cutting free birth control for women in particular, should lead us to reflect on the fact that private for-profit healthcare insurance is one of the biggest scams ever committed against the American people [yes, even bigger, much bigger, than Trump University].
Private for-profit medical insurance creates unnecessary costs in the healthcare system by building in profit for the insurance companies. The private for-profit healthcare insurance industry is a lucrative business, bringing billions of dollars in profits for insurance companies and making their CEOs members of the upper echelon of the 1%. Insurance companies spend millions of dollars on lobbying and political contributions to protect their for-profit interests.
In addition to bringing unneeded costs into the healthcare system, private for-profit healthcare insurance unnecessarily ties healthcare insurance to employment, with employers having significant control over the coverage of their employees. Employees become locked into jobs they might otherwise leave, but they fear the loss of insurance subsidies from their employer, and they literally fear for their lives that they may lose their jobs and lose the ability to afford coverage in the private insurance market.
If you don’t recognize this, you either have never been sick enough to lose your job and your insurance, you have never been close to someone who has had this experience, or you are so wealthy and so lack in empathy that you simply do not care. The mental and physical suffering, financial loss, and the stress this puts on individuals and families are heartbreaking. It is also the reason why bankruptcy related to inability to pay medical costs is such a problem in the United States while nearly non-existent as a problem in other wealthy counties.
In contrast to our current deeply flawed system, the Medicare for All proposals being put forward by some Democratic senators would provide the greatest equality of opportunity for people to have access to quality healthcare and would therefore contribute to a more just and more healthy society.
The rest of the industrialized world gets this, and they literally shake their heads in amazement that we don’t. Despite what we hear from the Republican propaganda machine, the vast majority of people in other wealthy countries would never trade their healthcare systems for what we currently have in the United States. In fact, the thought of doing so is laughable to them. It would be something akin to trading in a degree from a good college or university for a degree from Trump “University.” One works well for you, and the other is a sham that only really works well for the people who make money from the system.
Over time, the persons scammed by Trump University recognized what was being done to them, and they won a settlement for damages. The American people need to recognize what is being done to us through our deeply flawed private for-profit healthcare insurance system and settle for nothing less than Medicare for All.
In his move to allow employers to remove free birth control for women in their insurance plans, Trump is playing to those who say they are concerned about religious freedom. However, there is a very simple way to ensure that employers don’t have to go against their religious beliefs in the kind of healthcare insurance they provide their employees – end employer based healthcare insurance and create Medicare for All.
– Mark Y.A. Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. Click here for more of his essays.