About six weeks ago, I got a nasty sinus infection. It’s been “going around”. I had it for the normal 3 days, and it went away. Then it came back, shifting from my nose to my throat. And after 3 days, it went away again. When it popped back up a week or so later- this time causing me to lose much of the hearing in my left ear- Sorako insisted I visit a doctor. Antibiotics seem to be doing their job, and my hearing is slowly returning.
Here’s the thing: visiting the doctor cost me money. More money than I had wanted to spend- more money than I would have had to spend had I been insured. Since, however, I’m a waiter, my boss doesn’t offer insurance. As far as I know, no restaurant outside San Francisco offers health insurance to it’s food handlers. As professional as I am- as professional as most waiters, bussers, and cooks are- the odds food being deliberately sneezed in, coughed on, or otherwise contaminated by nasty bacteria are small.
But accidents happen. And someone with a cold or flu is basically a walking, sweating bag of nasty microbes waiting to infect random passers by.
The solution to this would be for sick restaurant (or, really, any retail) workers to take time off, see a doctor, and get better in a way that doesn’t potentially get others ill. See above, re: lack of insurance. Doctors are expensive. Seeing one, and getting my prescription filled cost me 2 days pay. Two days I also spent not working. Taking time off so as to not make others sick is an act of altruism.
Making the “haves” dependent on the altruism of the “have-nots” seems like bad social policy.
Enter Obamacare. Under it’s provisions, I’d have had health insurance. I would still have had to take time off- getting healthy still takes time- but a 90% reduction in the cost of a doctor’s visit and antibiotics, means I would have seen a doctor weeks ago. And if I had decided to go back to work instead of taking time off, I wouldn’t have been infecting other people.
How much less sickness would America experience if its retail employees were covered by insurance? Can we express that as a function of GDP decrees to lost productivity? I would think that healthy workers being more productive would be the sort of business-friendly measure the GOP would whole-heartedly support.
The GOP does not support universal healthcare. In fact, they are in favor of shifting the burden of healthcare costs from large organizations (government, businesses) onto the shoulders of individuals. The concept of herd immunity- the idea that each of us is healthier and better off if others among us are also healthy- doesn’t seem to enter into their equation.
Nor does it seem that the modern Republican Party understands that things purchased for a certain price can be worth a multiple of that price greater than 1. By taking the most direct rout to health, I was certainly helping myself- but the beneficiaries of that decision have a large incentive to ensure I do help myself. In 2014, American society will take a step towards making America a healthier, safer, better run society. That’s a rather nice return on tax expenditure.