Jeb Bush accused Democrats of winning black votes by promising "free stuff," and then Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of "promising free this and free that and free everything." But universal health care is free as in "freedom."
Americans stay in bad jobs, keep quiet about sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions, and shelve their plans to start new businesses or strike out on their own as freelancers because their healthcare is tied to their employer -- and when you have chronically ill or disabled family members, your job is a matter of life-and-death for your loved ones.
Tying healthcare to employment is a form of indenture, something that limits Americans' freedom. It's true that politicians who support universal healthcare are promising free stuff: the stuff of freedom.
Given this landscape, enacting a single-payer system would be one of the most liberating policy advances the US has seen in decades. While other types of incremental health reforms (including Obamacare) claim to move toward universality and affordability, only a Medicare-for-All system would sever the connection between health insurance and employment. It would dramatically change the employment calculus for every working person in the country, shifting power away from the boss.
The workplace might remain a realm of “private government,” as Elizabeth Anderson puts it, but it would become a little less autocratic. No longer would health insurance be something companies could dangle over workers’ heads. (This might be why, despite potential cost savings, most employers aren’t exactly rushing to wave the single-payer flag.)
Freedom for the Many [Shant Mesrobian/Jacobin]
(Image: Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA)
(via Naked Capitalism)