There are no ‘cookie cutter, one-size-fit-all’ solutions to problems as vast as making health care affordable, and thinking that requiring businesses to pay for insurance is even a small-step solution to the problem is factious. ‘Requiring’ is the point of contention. In this modern-era America, with weakening unions and non-existent pension programs, employees are looking to maximize benefits from companies they’d choose to work for. Requiring businesses to provide insurance would have unintended consequences for the business engine of the country and would do harm to the system, even more than the status quo.
At the lowest end, a McJob, the employer has to engage its potential workforce with as many enticements as possible, and heath care is a huge benefit for a low income, unskilled positions’ employer to offer. The crucial component here, is the McJob-ness of the employer. Not a mom and pop burger place, but McDonald’s. Not a corner five-and-dime but Wal-Mart. Not an independent bike messenger company, but UPS. These three huge brands offer insurance as a benefit to attract and keep employees. Admittedly, it is ugly and very unfortunate when these large companies systematically skirt requirements, enabling them to Not Provide insurance to its workers, eg: Wal-Mart and UPS not hiring for full-time positions as a method of circumnavigating health care obligations. With those types of practices, these huge companies are doing very little to ‘help’ healthcare’s situation in this country. But that is a problem to be addressed with direct action- not patronizing the business, not working for the business until better standards are adopted- not by mandating government requirements.
Mom and pop, five and dime & independent places of business simply cannot afford, in most cases, to offer insurance policies. They are not skirting obligations to their employees. I’d argue, it’s a goal of many businesses to grow large enough to be able to divert monies from day-to-day, head-above-water expenses to health coverage for its employees. The cost-benefit of offering insurance to employees is seen most acutely by small business owners. There is not one who wouldn’t rather treat a good employee’s need, than have to hire and train another because of loosing a good one to illness. Getting to the point where it can be an affordable offering, has to be an exciting realization for a small business.
Requiring business to insure will cripple start up companies. With a feeling of crisis looming, we lose sight at times and want the huge companies, making record profits, to share their wealth created off the backs of our fellow citizens. And we should do more to assure that those large companies are following rules and punish them by withholding patronage if they are not keeping their end of the bargains. But we must always remember that every business, even the now powerful and wealthy, begins as a start-up.