Take Jane for example.
Jane's daughter is ill. She has asthma that requires her to take several medications, be under the care of several doctors and which causes two or three trips to the emergency room every year.
Jane is a slave. She works for a fortune 1000 company which provides her health insurance. Jane hates the job. Her boss is abusive and cruel. The job is mindless and adds no meaning to her life and could, at any time, be outsourced. But she can't go to another employer because her daughter has a pre-existing condition and that new job would put her at the risk of being in the unsafe position of being last hired first fired.
So she has no choice. She must stay at the job. She can't find a more satisfying job, can't even take the risk to find a better paying job. She's virtually a slave stuck at a job, unable to leave it because of her loved one's need for health care. There are millions of Americans in the same boat. This is bad for America's mental health and for the economy, but it's great for that big corporation.
Imagine if Jane had government provided single payer-- medicare for all or something like any of the other first world, civilized nations provide for ALL their citizens. Jane could take some risks with her career. She could take a job with a small business where she could put her heart into her work. She could take a job for a bit less money or more money with the hopes of developing new skills and having more opportunities.
Because she's a health insurance slave in America, Jane's employer can pay her less money. They have her in a nasty bind that keeps wages down for millions of Americans. But really, it' s an illusory advantage. Those large employers are really at a huge disadvantage internationally, in the global economy. They are paying health insurance bills that competitors in other first world nations don't have to pay. They may fight single payer because they think it will cost them more in one way or another, but single payer will go far to protect Amercan industry and American jobs.
Unfortunately, the legislation that has floated to the surface between congress and the whitehouse will do nothing to help health care slave laborers very much. It does remove the pre-existing condition consideration. That's a good thing. But it still perpetuates dependence upon the employer for the health insurance.
If, or eventually, when the US finally does what the rest of the civilized world does, and passes single payer health care (probably when the american people rise up in a bi-partisan revolt against a congress that has become unaccountable and loyal to big corporations instead of people) there will be a huge change in the work force. People like Jane will be able to switch jobs much more easily. Employers will have to come up with new innovations to hold on to employees. You know how Google provides space for leisure and breaks for employees, how it feeds them? Well we might expect to see a lot more employers treating their employees better.
It will become easier for people to start small businesses since they will be entering the market on an evener playing field. They'll be able to lure higher quality workers because those workers will no longer be "enslaved" to big corporations providing second rate health care.
Health care is a human right. As we watch the disaster in Haiti unfold, we don't ask if they have health insurance. We don't ask if they have jobs. They are in need and they all, every one of them deserve and will hopefully get emergency health care. There are no libertarians decrying the government getting involved in providing health care in this tragic emergency. There are not talk radio hosts, not even the most idiotic, criticizing the mobilizationof government resources to help the Haitians. Sometimes it takes extreme situations to clarify the way things really are the way they really should be.
Health is a civil right that will probably have to be fought for. Perhaps, thinking about the tens of millions of health care slaves, working at jobs they hate, jobs that make their lives miserable, for companies which exploit them and the sufferings of their families, will get some minds to change. Or perhaps activists will have to do what those who fought for civil rights for Blacks did in the sixties. America is a better place than one which allows health care slavery. Americans deserve better. All humans do.