Healthcare reform is good for everyone. Well, not for insurance company CEOs, but for the rest of us–the insured, the uninsured, business owners, the federal government itself–it’s good. Have a look at this Obama administration video showing its expected benefits. Still, fear and opposition surround it. Mostly the fear is a diffuse sense that the bill is bad because people have said so, but when it comes down to specifics, it’s probably something to do with money. It will bankrupt insurance companies. It will increase the national debt, even though it actually saves over $100 billion. It will somehow make things harder for small businesses (when in doubt, say “small businesses”–works every time). It includes a force of 16,500 new IRS agents (seriously, just no). And then it comes down to dithering about whether the CBO figure is accurate and whether the influx of formerly-uninsured healthy people will offset the people with preexisting conditions who can no longer be denied coverage.
The dithering and the details are irrelevant. The bill will be good for business and it will be good for the economy, and it would be even if it didn’t provide small-business tax breaks and other economic incentives. Why? Because it will make the populace healthier, and a nation of healthy people is stronger than a nation of sick ones. It’s better for everyone. Rising tides and all that.
When the populace benefits, the economy benefits. Healthy people make better employees and better consumers. The measure mandating free preventative care is key here. People on a budget may shirk preventative care and play the odds, but this can end up costing employers (as well as, obviously, the people themselves) in sick days and disability, in employees who leave their jobs due to health problems, and in the lost productivity of employees who develop chronic conditions that preventative medicine could have avoided. But businesses really benefit from the increased consumption. After all, healthier people are more willing and able to eat out, play golf, go to Hawaii, water ski, and otherwise spend money. Plus, they’re more likely to spend their disposable income if they know that, should they get sick, they won’t be suddenly bankrupted. Healthy people, and people who are secure about their health, are more likely to take risks like starting a business. Everybody wins when the health of the populace improves.
The specific provisions, with their taxes and rebates, might or might not help businesses, but their effects will be small compared to the overall effect of the bill. The main effect of improving America’s healthcare system will be to improve people’s health. And that’s a good thing.