Why I Support Bernie Sanders: Part 1 – Health Care

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Bernie Sanders speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on 01/08/16 (Photo by Daniel Dorman)

I have always found it strange that health insurance was tied to a job. I understand how it came about back during WW2, but I’m not sure why it’s still that way today. Many Presidents, politicians, citizens, and unions have called for change to a more universal system. The ACA (Obamacare) might seem like something new, but in fact similar things had been proposed all the way back to Nixon, and then again with Clinton. Some may be happy with the provisions in Obamacare, I however feel the most important part was left out — the public option.

There could be many benefits from having health insurance separated from employment. In the time I’ve been married, just over five years, I’ve switched health insurance seven times. I would have much preferred not to, but unfortunately that wasn’t a choice.

I would like to walk you through these changes to help explain why I feel like universal health coverage from a public option is important.

  • Before I was married, I had insurance purchased privately (1). I was working multiple part-time jobs as well as freelancing while trying to start a business, so I had no full-time work benefits.
  • Soon after I was married, my wife got a full-time job teaching. We took the opportunity to have insurance through her work (2). The coverage was good, but also very expensive.
  • The next year, we switched to a HSA plan (3). It was more affordable, but I was expecting to get information about steps to set up a savings account, but never did. I have no idea where the money that was deducted from my wife’s checks actually went to.
  • I got a new full-time job with a company that paid for a significant portion of the health insurance costs, so we switched to that (4).
  • Six months later, my position was eliminated, so we were forced to switch back to insurance from my wife’s job (5).
  • Then we had a baby. Adding him to our policy would have made the premium significantly higher. We switched to a private insurer (6) and paid roughly the same for two adults and one child as we had been for just two adults with similar coverage.

This brings us to now, beginning of 2016 when — you guessed it — we had to switch plans. Our insurance company was no longer offering health insurance in 2016. We would have stayed on this plan, if it were still offered. Luckily, insurance plans at my current job were more reasonable due to the company starting to pay for a portion of it (7).

This is a mess! The world has changed a lot since the 1940’s. People can barely depend on a company for a job, much less a life long career. Many positions are kept as part-time and contracted out to avoid having to give workers the benefits that were once used to lure workers in! The reality is, people can’t just walk down the street from their high school graduation and into the front door of a factory and take an entry level job, work to move up to better paying positions, earn a pension and retire comfortably anymore. You can’t even walk out of a college graduation and do that. The system set in place no longer works for our current economy. I believe it’s marginally better with Obamacare — it’s more convenient for self-employed people to shop for and compare insurance plans, but costs are still too high and rising, and it still doesn’t solve the problem of health insurance being tied to jobs.

Another problem with health insurance coming and going with a job is that people aren’t always able to take the jobs they want to do or are good at, because the company they would work for doesn’t offer affordable insurance. I’m sure we’ve all heard people who have stayed in jobs they didn’t like because they needed to keep their health insurance for their families.

Just imagine, if health care was an American citizen’s right, we would no longer have to worry about leaving our jobs to start our own businesses or join a start up because we would loose our health insurance.

Imagine being able to freelance and work from home without being stuck finding your own health insurance and paying higher rates because you’re not part of a larger pool.

Imagine not having to worry each year about plan changes and figuring out which plan is going to best suit your unknown future needs.

That seems incredibly liberating and freeing to me. It removes a major barrier to entrepreneurship. It takes a burden off of businesses and allows them to compete for employees by offering good paying jobs, offering exciting environments, or fulfilling work.

Bernie Sanders speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on 01/08/16 (Photo by Daniel Dorman)

Bernie Sanders is the candidate who I believe has the best chance of helping usher in a new, better system for American health care. He has long advocated for such a system and has plans for how to implement and pay for it. He has been consistent on this subject since before he started his presidential campaign, not just after polls came back suggesting people support it. I believe he will fight harder for this than anyone else.

This is just one reason why I support Bernie Sanders for president.

For more information on Bernie’s health care plans, visit www.feelthebern.org.