Labor Day Issue: Healthcare Reform is Really About Changing Nature of Work

(Legal challenges to healthcare reform continue and it’s now an election issue.  I watch from my book-writing cave wondering why no one is talking about the real issue…work has radically changed over the past two decades making the job-healthcare link unsustainable.  So in honor of Labor Day, here’s the post in March, 2010 I wrote during the healthcare reform process.  What do you think the answer is 18 months later?)

Last week on the eve of the Health Care Reform Summit, I wondered if the changing nature of work, the real driver underlying the need to reform our current employer-sponsored health care system, would be mentioned.  I even created a brief survey asking you to place your bets, on “How will the ‘changing nature of work’ as key health care reform driver show up in tomorrow’s summit?”  The responses were split:

  • 50% said, “It will not be mentioned at all,” and
  • 50% said, “It will be mentioned, but tangentially.”

No one picked the other option which was, “It will be front and center.”

So, who was right?  Well, after reading the complete transcript from the day provided by Kaiser Health News (via Dr. David Ballard at the American Psychological Association), both groups were correct to a degree.  The increasing flexibility in the way we work as the powerful reason “why” we need to reform our health care system did come up, but very briefly and very tangentially.

Specifically, there were SIX references that linked nature of work and coverage.  Only six, out of a six-plus hour summit.  To be fair, there was a great deal of discussion about the need for exchanges where individuals and small businesses could purchase insurance, and the requirement to extend coverage of dependent children under their parents’ policies up to 25 years old.

But there was little explanation as to “why” there were so many millions of people either on their own, working in a small business, or without insurance in their early 20’s.  Answer: the change in work which involves more flexibility in type of employment beyond the traditional 1950’s “right out of school, work full-time for a big company for life” model.

Here are the six most specific references (I am not identifying the speaker or the political affiliation, if you are interested please review the transcript):….(Click here for more)