Pete Buttigieg, who is less a presidential candidate and more a collection of rich liberals’ fantasies projected into a crisp white shirt, is apparently the only major presidential candidate who does not yet offer his staff health insurance, NBC News reported today.
Buttigieg instead offers his staff $400 a month to buy insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange, which NBC says is “just enough for a single adult with no children” to get a silver plan. Many people we heard from at the end of last year about their experience on the exchange paid far more than $400.
The campaign’s reasoning for not offering health insurance is a telling example of why our current system is such garbage. Per the network:
Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, employers who have 50 or more full-time employees must offer health care the following calendar year.
Buttigieg’s campaign currently has 49 workers, but has been staffing up rapidly, and plans to hit the 50 mark imminently.
“Crossing this threshold will put us in a position to get a good multi-state group plan, which we are currently negotiating,” said Buttigieg press secretary Chris Meagher.
From the worker’s standpoint, all of this is meaningless; you’re doing the same work whether your employer has 49 or 50 employees. From the business’ standpoint—and a campaign operates like a business in many ways—any rule that allows them to avoid the expense of health insurance is a great rule. Many small businesses offer health insurance anyway, but not every worker will be lucky enough to work at one of those. Whether you get affordable or free employer insurance (without an insane deductible), or have to do battle with the ACA exchange or Medicaid—well, that’s just luck in America’s healthcare system.
Buttigieg is notoriously vague in his policy positions, and healthcare is no exception. But it sounds like he wants a public option instead of Medicare for All. According to On the Issues, Buttigieg said on Fox News Sunday in March:
A single-payer environment is probably the right answer in the long term, but I think any politician who throws around phrases like Medicare for all has to explain how we would get there. What you want to do is you take something like Medicare, you put it on the exchanges as a public option, and if people like me are right that that is both good coverage and more cost efficient, then more and more people will buy in and it will be a very natural glide path towards the single-payer environment.
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Apparently, what we want to do is provide “something like Medicare” as a public option on the exchanges, which will “be a very natural glide path towards the single-payer environment.” This is pretty stupid, since only 16 percent of the public gets their insurance on the exchange. And it doesn’t sound like he wants it to be offered for free, since he said “buy in,” meaning he wants to preserve a premiums-based model. How much would those premiums be? We don’t know. That’s only the single most important thing in determining whether people would be able to afford whatever version of Medicare he would want to offer, and we don’t know.
Buttigieg has also said he wants to maintain a role for private insurance. Again, that isn’t really specific enough to be helpful—Bernie Sanders, for example, has proposed private insurance continue to exist but be relegated to covering things like nose jobs, essentially just covering expensive elective things that single-payer wouldn’t cover.
But assuming he means preserving employer-based insurance, which is what most Democrats really fear eradicating, it sounds a lot like he wants to preserve the system in which shitty employers like him can avoid having to offer health insurance if they don’t feel like it—so long as they can get whatever form of Medicare he’s talking about on the exchange, however much that costs, with whatever deductibles or drug costs it might have.
Instead of bleating that you simply can’t provide insurance to your employees until you have 50 of them, wouldn’t it all be a lot easier to take the decision of whether an employee gets access to healthcare out of their employer’s hands entirely? Wouldn’t it be nice if Boss Buttigieg didn’t have to think about that at all?