Health care for Realtors

The New York Times ran a story this week about how dicey and fragile and middle-class existence can be without decent health care benefits.  They profiled a self-employed real estate agent who could not find health insurance after recovering from cancer.  Well, she could have, if she could afford $27K for health insurance on a $60K income.  What this profile makes patently clear is the absurdity of tying health care benefits to the vagaries of employment.  A realtor who makes deals for Century 21 is likely out of luck whereas one who buys land for a government agency or a university will have good health care.  This issue really resonates for me as both my parents are self-employed, my dad as a realtor my mom as a piano teacher.  I was part of a middle-class family that never had health insurance while growing up because my parents could not afford a policy on their own.  Fortunately, we never faced any significant health hardships till I was taken care of by various university policies and my parents made it to Medicare age.  Still, there is just no sensible reason for basing your health care status upon for whom you work.  Here's the solutions offered to the woman in the article:

When Ms. Readling was shopping for insurance, she found two responses
particularly galling. One insurer, she said, suggested she return to
her prior job, at a furniture company, so she could participate in its
group health plan, though she loved her work as a real estate agent.
Another insurer suggested she remarry her former husband to get back on
his insurance plan.

Further emphasizing the senselessness of our current system, Tim Noah had a great satirical column up in Slate this week entitled, “Would you privatize Defense?: The case for socialized medicine.”  His opening paragraphs make the point quite strongly:

Suppose the national defense of the United States were relegated to
the private sector. Instead of the publicly funded Army, Navy, Air
Force, and Marines, the country would be defended by private militias
funded mainly by insurance companies. In the event of foreign attack on
U.S. soil, the militias would defend those citizens in the affected
areas who'd paid defense insurance premiums through their places of
work (or, if self-employed, as individuals).

The best-armed
troops would defend the wealthiest and most hawkish segments of the
population, who would have paid the highest premiums.

The
less-wealthy and more dovish customers who'd chosen a less-generous
policy would likewise be defended against attack, but they could expect
to pay heavily out of pocket because their insurance would only cover
costs for weapons and manpower above a fairly high deductible. The
doves' militias might or might not call in air support, knowing the
insurance company would pay for it only in the most dire
circumstances?difficult to calibrate as bombs are dropping all around
you.

You don't hear many of those raising fears of “socialized medicine” complaining about “socialized defense” do you.

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