Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Universal Health Care: Why Should We Care?
Universal Health Care is the concept that everyone should have access to high-quality and affordable medical care. Most major industrialized countries have some form of Universal Health Care for all of their citizens. Notably, our closest neighbor to the north, Canada, has a Universal or "Single-Payer" Health Care System. The "Single-Payer" is the Canadian government.
Although every Canadian citizen has guaranteed health care coverage, that is not true here in the United States. Millions of Americans are either uninsured or underinsured. Health care costs continue to spiral upward. Those who do have health insurance often live in fear of losing their coverage.
Most members of IBEW 1837 enjoy good health care insurance coverage for themselves and for their families. It is one of the great benefits of union membership and our collective bargaining agreements. As union members, why should we care about those people who have to do without?
According the statistics provided by the AFL-CIO, there are 46 million Americans who are living without health care insurance. Nearly one-quarter of them, or more than 10 million, are children. Although these people lack insurance, they still have accidents and get sick. And when they do, when they can't pay their bills, the rest of us have to pick up the tab. That is just a part of what is driving up the cost of health care in the United States.
Many critics of the Universal Health Care concept cite concerns about quality of care under that system. However, consumers of health care services in countries with Universal care express overall satisfaction in the quality of care in most opinion surveys. What's more, the United States has already proven its ability to provide high-quality Universal care to large numbers of its citizens with Medicare. Medicare is a Universal Health Care system for all Americans age 65 and over.
As the cost of health care continues to increase, the amount of money that each of us must pay out-of-pocket will also increase. And as the cost of health care insurance skyrockets for our employers, it becomes more and more difficult for your Union to bargain for increases in wages and other benefits when negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
If the United States were to implement some form of Universal Health Care, it would not only benefit those without adequate insurance. It would benefit the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Union members at the contract bargaining table!