This American Would Take His Chances with a Government-Sponsored Health Insurance Option
I can't resist the opportunity to, for just this once, to use this column to discuss a controversial but very important issue for small business. As I write this, there's a chance that the issue may be resolved, tabled or otherwise disposed of by the time it appears in Woodall's Campground Management. And there's a chance that the editors at this publication will decide that I'm stepping over the line with this column and it may never see the light of print.
The topic: Health insurance reform.
I strongly encourage the park industry – individual park owners, campground-owning companies, the states and national association, ARVC – to insist that the U.S. Congress address the need for Americans to have access to affordable and quality health care through necessary health insurance.
It is imperative for the health, well-being and economic prosperity of small business of all kinds that the work force on which the small business owner relies, and the family members of the business owners, be able to come to work and perform their responsibilities not out of fear that if they lose their job they will lose their health care, not with one eye out looking for the better opportunity with better health benefits, but that they come with a sense of security knowing that like access to food, clothing and shelter, access to health care is available and affordable.
And they come to work each day because of a decision they made to work where they enjoy the environment and the work they perform and not a decision to work in an environment they dislike simply because the health benefits are more secure or more generous.
Only when there is a broadly competitive market for health care, only when every American can secure health care at an affordable price without worry about prior illnesses that disqualify them from the help, care and physical protection they need will small business be able to concentrate on its core competencies – providing America with goods and services, innovation, quality and all of the attributes of a growing economy.
Take the health care worries of employers, employees, mothers, fathers or siblings off our backs and let us devote our energies to more productive matters that will help us grow the business.
If it takes a government-sponsored or operated health insurance option or alternative to help level the playing field for all, we must do that.
Many if not most workampers I've met over the years rely heavily on the Veterans Administration for their health care. Were it not for the VA, I don't think there would be as many senior couples traveling the country in their RVs, free to pursue their passions and provide a very valuable labor pool for park owners. Tens of millions of Americans who served in the armed forces rely on VA medical care throughout their lives. And if that's not government-provided health care for our respected vets, then what is it?
If workampers are not vets, then they most likely will be either civil servants, teachers, factory workers or employees of Fortune 500 companies – most of whom are treated to health benefits provided either through their government-funded retirements or through hard fought union contracts that require America's largest companies to provide lifetime health benefits.
You won't find many retirees who spent their lives working for RV parks or campgrounds or other similar small businesses traveling carefree around the U.S. while someone else takes care of their health needs.
My elderly mother passed away in late July at the age of 98. After seven years in a nursing home, her personal funds gone, how did she qualify for medical care through her remaining years? Medicare and Medicaid. Two government-sponsored programs that enable millions of Americans to access quality care when they no longer can qualify or purchase private health insurance as they age and are no longer in the work force. Try taking away these programs because they are government-sponsored health care… any guess what the reaction would be?
And while we're at it, let's not forget Social Security, the retirement income safety net for millions and millions of Americans and the necessary supplemental income for millions more in retirement. Yes, Social Security may be in financial trouble. But how many of you readers would vote to eliminate this program and let every American hang out there entirely on their own through their retirement? It is another example of a government program that has wide application not to mention acceptance throughout American society.
Yes, government screws up and big government is often an intrusion in our lives and could become an intrusion in our liberty. In fact, it already is an intrusion into our private and business lives in many ways, and that's a story for another day. But as the expression goes, do we throw out the baby with the bath water? I don't think so.
State government operates some of the finest colleges and universities in America. The federal government operates the world's largest, most sophisticated and most successful military. And there are many, many more examples.
The knee jerk reaction opposing any intrusion of government into the health insurance business is a mistake for small business and for the millions of small business owners, their families and their employees. The insurance industry is doing one heck of job scaring us into believing that anything the government does will be a disaster. A government-provided health care insurance option – not government-provided health care – should be on the table for consideration by those who find it a viable alternative from private, commercial care. Much like national parks provide a camping option for those who prefer that alternative to private commercial RV parks and campgrounds, so too can a government health insurance option provide a similar choice for Americans.
The essence of a free society is free choice among competitive alternatives. The insurance companies should not be afraid of a government health insurance option – they already are faced with it and there's no charity or fund raising needed for that industry.
Personally, I am not intimidated or scared by a government-sponsored health insurance option.
Thanks for listening. What do you think?
David Gorin, former ARVC CEO, is president of David Gorin & Associates, providing management consulting services to the outdoor hospitality industry. He's also a partner in King & Gorin, specializing in Washington representation for associations and businesses in travel, tourism transportation, recreation and public lands. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (703) 448-6863.