A (Different) Good Argument for Universal Health Care

One of the smartest (education-related) reasons for supporting universal health care coverage came from Dean Dad’s recent post:

My proposal for long-term prosperity: combine an educated population with national health insurance (since going without health insurance is a colossal barrier to starting a new business) and a focus on providing the kinds of public goods that lead to all manner of positive externalities – basic research, mass transit, that sort of thing. If that sounds a bit Scandinavian, well, Norway and Sweden aren’t doing too badly these days. Iceland followed our model instead, and effectively collapsed. In places with plenty of smart people running around, where the cost of failure isn’t so awful, it’s not shocking that Nokias and Ericssons pop up. Here, we get Wal-Mart. We can train people to work at Wal-Mart, and there may be times when that’s the least-bad short-term option. But it’s not the same thing.

I thought this was interesting; I hadn’t thought about the implications of universal access to health care for people who stay in their jobs because of the benefits, such as health insurance, who might prefer to go out on their own and do something different. As the bringing-home-the-benefits spouse, I personally would love to have health care for my family that wasn’t tied to my job. Then maybe grad students like me wouldn’t need to work full-time on top of going to school full-time; or at least we’d have the option of taking a GRAship and maybe a little teaching on the side to make it through school.

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