That seems like such an obviously better outcome for everyone - what if we got rid of healthcare benefits and other types of favorable tax treatment that are tied to full time employment so that everyone is in the same boat? Then all contractors, including Uber and Lyft drivers could keep the freedom and flexibility of being contractors (which anecdotally, I have talked to a lot of drivers who really like this aspect of it), but also not struggle as much to get by?
(Universal healthcare is one path towards this world but not necessarily the only one, I think even the current healthcare system we have would work a lot better if premiums weren’t paid pre-tax by employers and people had actual choice and paid for their care with real money).
Health care as a discussion point in the contractor vs. employee topic is relevant for only one country on the planet.
The important benefits of having a job as opposed to gigging can be summarized as "the employer should not have complete power over the employee". For Uber drivers this is exactly the case, that's why this type of work is socially poisonous.
I think what the OP was getting at is perhaps US centric, but basically Uber would be a lot better gig if you could be an Uber driver and have good health coverage (because it was a social service). At that point the argument would only be about fair wages, which is an easier case to make.
Contractors for low skill work is exclusively a means to avoid the overhead of having an employee and all the worker protections that entails. The "contractor" has no negotiating power, and no protections normally given to employees. For the Uber "contractors" it's the worst of both worlds while Uber get to have their cake and eat it too.
They want to terminate/not renew your contract because they didn't like you for some reason ? They can. With no extra fee to pay. So imagine if they find out you are part of a Union or participated in a Uber-strike. As a Uber driver, you have no negotiation power over them. You only power is to go see a competitor, which has the same problem and are not numerous anyway.
Then, there is also the fact that as a "personal" contractor, if you get sick, you are fucked. You car has a problem ? Deal with it with your own money. You have no minimum salary, no paid vacation, no sick day, no protection of any kind.
Whatever happen to you, Uber don't care, you are just one of their many contractor.
The status of employee brings a lot of protection that worker all over the world had to fight for. This type of unipersonnal contractor just bring us back to early 1900 worker status, and we should never accept that.
Haven't heard about it in a while, but this is a goal of the current CEO: http://fortune.com/2018/10/04/uber-driver-benefits-insurance...
That's also a big fat red herring.
The clients of a service are not employers of the contractor, and just because a contractor decides to invest some of his time to provide a service through ads posted on a job board that connects clients and service providers it does not mean that the job board suddenly becomes an employer.
Since when do job boards choose contractors for you? Since when job boards set the terms for the contractors? Since when they set prices for both you and contractors?
From the point of view of the customer, Uber looks like a taxi service, not a "taxi drivers phonebook in an app". It's done like this on purpose, but it should go both ways. You shouldn't get to pretend you're a company when it comes to benefits, but suddenly present yourself as network of "independent" contractors where it comes to drawbacks.
They're not a job board. They're an employer shirking their responsibilities to their employees.
But when PostNL wants to fire all their mail deliverers and rehire them as independent contractors, they can. When I asked why, it turned out the main difference was that they are replaceable and I'm not: if they're unable to deliver mail at a certain day, they can get a friend to do it for them. When I'm ill, I can't send someone else to do my job.
It's a stupid rule. It's the exact reason why I have power over my work situation and they don't, yet somehow it's the reason why their situation is allowed and I constantly need to prove myself (though I haven't had any trouble so far).
And maybe it should be hourly rate rather than yearly revenue, because a client might have no idea what a contractor's year looks like. You don't want clients to be forced into additional commitments until they've hired you for enough hours.
Finally, where I live at least, the "Scheinselbständigkeit" regulation would not necessarily apply to to Uber/Lyft even if it existed here: many of the ride-share cars I see around here have both Lyft and Uber signage and the drivers will switch their time between the companies. I don't know all the dynamics of why drivers do that, but I'm sure there are reasons for doing that.
Even in countries with single-payer healthcare, full-time employees may be eligible to a better healthcare deal via their employer than a temp worker, never mind a contractor.
In other gig/freelance scenarios the markets work themselves out, but often suffer from a globalized work force pushing rates way down. In the driver situation, the prices are local, so there is no excuse for the market not to work itself out unless the drivers are not excercising their freedoms or they have no other platform with better circumstances, to which they could find other types of work. It isn't that easy I know, but you have the choice to look and try.
The latter can indeed leave at any time and be fine. Perhaps take a sabbatical at the sea side.
The former will have their livelihood threatened if they make use of that flexibility, hence they have in reality no flexibility at all. They dance to the tune of Uber, Amazon and other bullies.
If Uber, or any other company invents a type of work which cannot be compensated according to those rules, then they do not have a viable business and will go bankrupt or be fined out of existence.
In practice, they've managed to find enough loopholes to survive, while making the lives of many of their employees miserable.
My point really isn't that these things are or aren't social goods, but that the limits to social good and what it can be used to justify are far too vague and far reaching, ending up with the line being drawn only by the person who happens to be in charge at the time. Social good is the justifying call of tyrants.
I advocate for individual rights and property rights for everyone, allowing them to be free from the state using force. That includes the business men making decisions over their companies which is their property and their employees who choose whether or not they want to sell their labour to them.
there's no difference. If your skillset is sought after, you get more money (by exercising your market demand).
The fact that there are many poorly paid people is not a problem of the companies paying them poorly, but of society not creating equal opportunities for those people (e.g., for education) to skill up.
I think everyone working fulltime should have a liveable wage.
A "liveable wage", whatever that is, isn't a workable solution for a lot of businesses, simply because the actual value of their work may be lower than the liveable wage. Now instead of getting some money for food to eat or a place to stay, they now get nothing because it just isn't viable to pay the liveable wage for the value they supply.
"simply because the actual value of their work may be lower than the liveable wage."
That is not a job then and the entity assigning such tasks is not a company. A company has a responsibility to offer its workers certain benefits in return for having access to the legal and social frames that are allowing it to operate.
You're assuming an unhealthy society, which unfortunately matches the US, but also many other so-called well-off countries: social protection diminished or outright removed combined with job uncertainty and social inequality.
Having one or two Ubers allows you merely to pretend longer that the situation's not dire. The political turn to the right in Europe right now and the election results in the US can be at least partly explained by the fact that people are sick of it.
What about the franchise owner? An article was posted here a few weeks back saying the average yearly take home pay of a 7-11 owner was less than $40K a year and he was working 60+ hours per week.
Then the next argument is usually if they can’t pay a livable wage and be profitable that they shouldn’t be in business. Which is really a great argument on a site where many people work for money losing tech companies who are only in business because of VC funding.
> Even if you are self-employed, you can also decide whether you wish to be insured via the statutory health insurance scheme or through a private fund.
More relevant: self-employed don't pay into social security. Thus unemployment money and retirement have to be paid differently.
In a year, every other advertisement on TV would be for health insurance, like it is with car insurance now.
I've always found this suggestion a bit disingenuous.
First, there is no federal law that bans insurance from being sold across state lines. What they really mean (but can't say because it is not politically appealing) is "Don't allow states to regulate insurance sold in their state."
State boards regulate insurance. They seem to do it well. No insurance companies failed during the 2009 financial crisis and the ones that came close (looking at you AIG) did so because of their activities and investments that fell outside of the state regulations.
Not allowing states to regulate insurance would reduce costs, but not for the reason you think. The cost of getting a product approved in a given market is predictable and a very small part of the cost of doing business.
By taking this right away from the individual states, we could see a race to the bottom where all insurance companies would incorporate in whatever state offered the lowest reserve requirements and loosest oversight. This would decrease the cost of policies and increase the profitability of the insurance companies.
It would be great until there was a hard year and the insurance companies would have the be bailed out by the taxpayers.
State regulation of insurance companies is a great thing. The states keep each other in line and they keep the industry solvent.
BTW, auto insurance is also regulated on the state-level.
The things you are talking about are regulatory standards. I've not seen anyone really suggesting that regulatory standards are a problem in the Americas (on the contrary, everything I've read suggests if you have in insurance the whole process can be pretty comfortable).
gp's post is, in my eyes, clearly going towards the point that people should be choosing their own insurers, rather than their employers choosing insurers (on employees behalf). It seems like common sense to me that an individual will be better at choosing a healthcare provider than their employer.
The idea that healthcare benefits are a factor to consider when choosing an employer is bizarre. The only reason to link the two is because Americans enjoy being different. And strangely anti-individual-choice in this instance. That dynamic is an obvious perversion of the market to deregulate.
I have picked insurance as an individual and as an employer, and that is 100% wrong.
Any kind of insurance is difficult to shop for, because it's for something you'll only really need if you're unlucky; that means it's hard to tell whether the choice you make is a good one. Health insurance is worse, because it's an extremely complicated product.
A company, on the other hand, gets to amortize the cost of figuring out the right options across all of the employees, meaning they can do a better job. They will often have a professional doing it, which helps more. They also get to gather statistical data on how well the insurance performs. And they have have much more negotiating power than individuals.
One way to think of it is that markets work best when you have actors a) of approximately equal power, b) making frequent choices, c) where the products can be easily evaluated, and d) where experience with the product happens quickly, so that the feedback loops are short. Health insurance is exactly none of those things. Markets are tools, not magic wands.
> but having strong opinions is fun so I'll wade in anyway :D
Note that this is literally a life or death question for people in the US. You might think it's fun/funny. Having watched both my parents deal with cancer, that comes across poorly to me.
> The only reason to link the two is because Americans enjoy being different.
No. The American system grew up as it did for particular local reasons, not just a random desire to be contrary on some imagined global stage. It was in retrospect an obviously bad choice given that we spend way more than others while getting worse results. But it made sense at the time.
Sometimes employers reimburse employees for health coverage, and sometimes they negotiate a nicer rate package that any employee is free to use; but it’s not tied to employment like it is in the US.
If you’re under 18 it doesn’t cost anything. If you can’t afford it you receive a government subsidy. GP visits are part of the basic insurance, and the system functions with the GP as a gatekeeper.
It’s certainly not a perfect system...for example, a non-urgent surgery might take months to be scheduled if demand is high.
But, overall, I’m convinced this is a vastly better system for society than what exists in America.
Edit: it’s funded through taxes, insurance premiums that are about €110-130 per month, and deductibles which are at least €385 per year
Wha..? So, are you in favor of your employer picking out your car insurance or your home owners insurance? Sure, health insurance is complicated, but have you read your car insurance policy? I don't see the two as being FUNDAMENTALLY more or less complicated. Further, I will probably blame any irreducible complications you may quote as vestiges of a product that is primarily sold to... corporate specialists. I think these things would change if we got our employers out of the loop.
Get sick, go to hospital, insurer covers. There is a shortlist of things the insurer won't cover. You pay the insurer each month.
Insurance isn't complicated. It is a complicated by bad regulation that mean insurers aren't trying to sell to individuals.
> A company, on the other hand, gets to amortize the cost of figuring out the right options...
That sounds like a pretty decent argument until the implications are examined. An identical argument could be made for:
The truth is that the amortization of figuring out what people want is best done by the insurer, and then people just buy whatever their friends have. Like everything else.
> You might think it's fun/funny.
I think it is funny that I'm commenting on a system more than an ocean away, I'm not laughing at sick people. That would be a bit weird.
> No. The American system grew up as it did for particular local reasons...
The reasons are, in hindsight, stupid. They should switch to using a system that makes sense. Either the capitalist way or the socialist way. The crazy hybrid that is used in practice is crazy.
Just because there is a stupid system in place today is not a reason to stick to it, and everyone agrees with that idea.
It is extraordinarily clear that you've never had to do this. And apparently never had to deal with a serious illness in your family. Which is great for you, but please understand that's not the case for others.
> An identical argument could be made for [...]
No, not at all. The only one of those that might meet the four factors I describe is schooling, which is also a highly fraught choice, but it's still not as bad on dimensions B, C, and D. Individual educational needs are also less varied and more predictable than medical care needs. And for choosing education, society puts extensive effort into helping people make those choices well: school rankings, guidance counselors, oceans of books and articles, school accreditation, etc, etc. Until the ACA, there was basically no assistance for picking an individual care plan. ACA marketplaces help a bit, but it's still an extremely difficult choice.
> Insurance isn't complicated. It is a complicated by bad regulation that mean insurers aren't trying to sell to individuals.
It's complicated in America because the right wing in America's position is not "if everyone buys private insurance it'll be good," but rather is "I have good cheap-to-me insurance through my job that I like, and I'll be damned if i contribute a penny to those who don't, and you shouldn't force them to buy it, even if that means that only the unhealthy people will be in the private market."
When Republicans complain about the ACA's health insurance regulations they're talking about regulations that mean "people should be required to have coverage to keep the market healthy" and "that coverage shouldn't be practically-useless bullshit"
But for things they do cover, what price do they pay? That seems to be the crux here.
Something like travel insurance is simpler, because when they buy you a hotel room / a new suitcase, most of the other buyers are not insurance, and so there's a market price they can refer to. But healthcare isn't like that, and it seems the the prices of many procedures vary wildly, like 100x between different hospitals. Nobody can afford a 100x increase in premiums.
From what I understand about better-functioning health insurance systems, there's usually also a pricelist written up by the government. That seems like the crucial foundation for a useful health insurance market. Much as I wish there was a nice market mechanism for this, I have yet to see one.
I live in a country with public healthcare and even there, private medical insurance is ridiculously complicated. I'd wager insurance in general is in top 3 of the most complicated products available for regular people. Nowhere else I had to read and sign a TOS the size of a long novel. I imagine that for Americans, it's only worse.
And as for the book-length TOS, almost nothing in there seemed to me like regulatory requirements - it all read like the usual "try to exploit the customer as much as possible while making sure the customer can't exploit us" terms.
This was a major component of Trump's platform, and where the "selling insurance across state lines" thing comes from.
The reality would be worse than you describe - rather than being driven by reserve requirements, the race to the bottom would be based on differences in the level of coverage that insurers are required to provide. Healthy people would buy coverage from states with lax requirements to reduce their premiums, while less healthy people would buy coverage from states with more stringent requirements to ensure their treatment would be covered. Premiums in states with stringent coverage requirements would increase, pushing more and more healthy people to cheaper alternatives, and eventually making coverage in those states unaffordable for the people who need it.
 (PDF) https://www.naic.org/prod_serv/SPD-OPS-19.pdf
Surely that wouldn't be the case? They wouldn't have to be bailed out; If a company hadn't planned ahead well enough to survive a bad year then they deserve to go under. In an unregulated economy, bailing out failed companies shouldn't be an option.
If the gov't forces an insurer to keep a reserve (for such an occasion), then it becomes regulation!
Losing your money to a failed company is a cost of doing business sometimes, it's a risk everybody takes when they purchase things in advance. The company/owner would owe a refund for the service not provided due to company collapse, whether or not they can pay that is another matter and should be accepted as part of the risk. There's no such thing as risk free business and attempts to remove the risk inevitably remove part of the value too.
> Losing your money to a failed company is a cost of doing business sometimes, it's a risk everybody takes when they purchase things in advance. The company/owner would owe a refund for the service not provided due to company collapse, whether or not they can pay that is another matter and should be accepted as part of the risk. There's no such thing as risk free business and attempts to remove the risk inevitably remove part of the value too.
I think we as a society have deemed it unacceptable to hold consumers accountable for company selection in some specific industries. Banking and healthcare come to mind. We certainly don't think it's okay for depositors to lose their shirts over a banker's risk taking and we hold that value to such a degree that in America at least it has been codified into law.
I know at least NJ mandates a separate fund that insurers must pay into to protect against this instance.
Businesses having separate funds to protect against it is a good idea but it shouldn't be mandatory to have one, only to tell the consumer whether there is one. I imagine most consumers would happily pay a little more and choose the company with one than the one without.
For example, healthcare services should be considered essential, and therefore, should not be left up to the market forces, as these forces would mean that some part of the population who is not profitable to serve will not get served.
in such cases, the best option is a socialized mechanism (such as universal healthcare, paid for by taxation). For some reason, the US of A is very much against this idea. It's as if these ideas have been tainted with the smear campaign of communism and red-scare.
Leaving healthcare to 'market forces' is nothing more than leaving doctors alone to do healthcare as they please and for a profit that they earn, rather than using government to force prices down and make them work for less than they're worth.
I'm not opposed to a health care option provided by government, but it has to be optional both to pay in and use in order to be a morally sound imo.
On the other hand, I would concede that one would ask, "But where do you draw the line?" And I would answer, "Society collectively draws the line." Which is evidenced by our collective evolution of social programs provided by the government (which tend to be more expansive rather than less so).
Fwiw I am not in disagreement about market forces being particularly maladapted in dictating the pay of specialists (especially considering that many laypeople can't even accurately price nonspecialist time let alone a specialist's time or actual value)
I think we may have a different conception of what is determined as a right: I tend to conceptualise rights as inherent, things required to allow a human to live to the best of their ability. When we think of rights in this way, they aren't things that can be given; they can only be taken away or protected. If I build a hut when I'm stranded on a desert island, that's my hut and I shouldn't be forced out of it and no one else stranded on the island has a "right" to the product of my labour. If I spend time and effort gathering food, the other people on the island who haven't put that effort in don't deserve some of that food just because they're hungry. Now if I give them some out of pity or for the benefits of keeping a group around me, that's a different story than if they take it by force. If they take it by force, they've committed a moral wrong and violated the right required to live for me.
My approach is unforgiving but its from the perspective of individuals and their property rights. It doesnt exclude empathy and willing charity, just excludes forced empathy and charity.
Maybe, but we don't deserve to have them take the rest of the economy with them.
It's hard to overstate how much of the economy depends on insurance. If an insurance company becomes insolvent and can no longer cover it's long term liabilities, elderly people who were counting on life insurance or annuities will starve and the newly uninsured in need of operations will die.
If the human toll does not impress you, consider that the entire economy would freeze up without insurance. Residential and commercial building, freight shipment, construction, and most sizable loans all require insurance coverage.
The insurance industry is not like a banana stand. We need to (and do) strictly regulate and audit these companies.
The pragmatic argument you're making saying the economy would freeze up isn't really relevant. You can only be pragmatic within a moral framework, with a value that you're aiming at and I'm speaking to that underlying moral framework. I would rather live in a moral, failing world than an immoral and thriving one.
That's all accepting your premise that regulation helps the economy though, I think the reality is that an unregulated (and therefore more moral by my estimation) economy would come back and be stronger having learnt not to rely on insurance so much.
That literally was the case in 2008 with AIG
Just because it does not prohibit cross state sales is just mincing words. It gave states the ability to make it near impossible to do so. Without consistent requirements how would one expect to have a viable product?
There was an attempt to repeal it but that apparently did not get past the Senate, it was again pushed in 2017 through another act. There are attempts in the Senate as of 2019 to do it.
What we call health "insurance" is really just access to health care with expenses adequately covered, with only the portion of that covering unexpected or unlikely risks properly falling under the heading of insurance.
Additionally, even the true insurance piece is one of the only kinds of insurance where it's a societal imperative (in most people's opinions) for everyone to get the insured benefits they need, regardless of ability to pay. Even car insurance isn't required for people who rely on mass transit.
Health insurance policymaking needs to differ from most other kinds of insurance policymaking for these reasons.
That's not what markets are meant for or good at, especially not the deregulated free market that is often meant by questions like yours. As for a tightly regulated market with lots of requirements about coverage and price, some states already have that, and it's exactly those tightly regulated markets which the "let insurance sell across state lines" proposals want to disrupt.
#3 also doesn't make sense because people don't buy the auto insurance that they want. They buy the insurance that the state requires them to pay, and maybe a little more if they want something better. But the government mandates a minimum level of coverage which the insurance companies need to avoid either going insolvent or charging much higher rates than they do.
Trump additionally signed an executive order to setup a national way to do it, but it died off as a policy proposal because the insurance companies aren't interested
The issue isn't whether Kaiser can sell a Californian a Californian health plan and a Texan a Texan health plan, Kaiser can already do that. The issue is whether Kaiser is allowed to sell a Californian a Texan health plan.
Take away the default model, and open pure competition, and the insurance companies will have to compete on that level, and things will relatively quickly get better.
State Farm Texas competing with State Farm Kansas is surely going to solve all our problems.
The problem is that most people don't pre-shop for insurance that way, and only find out that their local provider is out of network when it's urgent that they get help.
A giant problem with getting healthcare through insurance companies is that it's not actually insurance. Insurance should only be used to pay out in catastrophic cases; it's always cheaper to pay for something predictable yourself than to make an insurance claim.
Of course, most people can't afford any healthcare at all. There's no way to insure that.
Total cost is $2800 per person per year.
In the US it would cost $950b to provide that for everyone.
The US currently spends $1077b on Medicare/Medicaid.
Yup. If anything, it'd make things substantially worse.
There's a reason all the credit card companies moved to Delaware - they found the most favorable jurisdiction (and work to ensure it stays that way).
Health insurers would love to all move to the most insurer-friendly jurisdiction.
> The decision attracted little notice at the time. Two years later, the possibilities it opened up became clearer when Citibank, squeezed by interest rate caps, decided to move its credit-card operations out of New York City. The company persuaded Bill Janklow, then governor of South Dakota, whose agricultural economy was struggling at the time due to high fuel prices, to persuade that state's legislature to formally invite the bank there, as required by federal law before a national bank can do business from a state. He then successfully lobbied the legislators to pass a bill drafted by the bank that repealed the state's cap on interest rates, something a small group of legislators were already trying to do. Citibank quickly moved the 300 white-collar jobs in its credit-card division to Sioux Falls, where it has been ever since.
> South Dakota lured a few more large credit operators, such as Wells Fargo, before corporation-friendly Delaware repealed its anti-usury laws as well. Several other states also repealed their interest-rate caps, more lenders entered the credit-card field and introduced newer products and by 1990 the amount of credit cards in use in the U.S. had more than doubled. Credit cards, once a loss leader for the banks that issued them, became a major profit center as banks aggressively marketed them to "revolvers", customers who carried large balances but rarely paid more than the monthly minimum, resulting in large interest payments to the bank.
Most of the rest of the developed world has long since acknowledged this - that certain things are better disconnected from profit.
It's strange to see someone say this like it's a good thing. Almost no one wants to "shop for the health insurance they need". They want to show up when they need care and receive it, and not have to think about it.
I'm saying that, because the situation would imply a price war for health insurance, which -- crazy me! -- I think would be good for everyone.
it's all about in how the regulation is carried out. paperless data transfer between company, ban on exit and transfer fees, standardized risk assessment that's binding for all companies allowed a healthy competition.
Why can't health insurance companies sell across state lines right now?
Every state has unique requirements and Congress has never superseded them with a national health law.
2) Federal law has in fact controlled many aspects of health insurance plans, particularly employer-sponsored health plans, for decades. The elephant in the room is ERISA, passed 1974, but of course there's also Obamacare.
I don't know the full history about why you cant buy health insurance across state lines, but I think it's a blend of different state's regulations and not wanting to be beholden to interstate commerce clause regulations (ironically, the provision that was used to justify the ACA mandatory insured or penalty as a tax ruling.)
I never have nor will understood how the interstate commerce clause was used to justify the ACA "tax". The mandate is effectively compelling intrastate commerce (I know of know interstate medical insurance available) under the guise of regulation interstate commerce. This seems to fly against the letter and intent of the constitution in regards to interstate commerce.
The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.
If you don’t like it, changed it: they’re called amendments.
Yes I know the historical reasons the US is the way it is but it is the 21st century now not the 18th
Saying the Interstate Commerce cases ignore the Constitution is reductive. Many IC-buttresssd laws involve carrots, e.g. highway funds. In other cases, single-state violators are perfectly legal. They just don’t make economy sense in a connection national economy.
You don’t want insurance to be like banking where banks domicile in “friendly” places like Delaware and South Dakota. Health insurance is awful enough.
Republicans want this so that high cost, low benefit plans can be hocked to less sophisticated people. The more right wing folks also like shared responsibility pools where the members are the insurers, and the organizers take overhead. Obamacare put most of these out of business.
Most conservatives are, well just conservative people who have a point of view. They don't call the shots though.
The US has by far the strongest free speech protections of any nation. It’s not really that surprising that the Supreme Court ruled that forming a corporation doesn’t annual free speech rights.
People can still donate their money, but to allow corporations, which are explicitly created to concentrate money and power, to donate money to politicians, that has a massive impact.
The people working for a company can have free speech without the company itself having free speech. In fact, some companies having a tendency to curb free speech through contracts denying people the right to talk about certain things.
And then there's also the issue that corporations get used to dodge personal liability by their owners and employees. If corporations don't share their people's responsibilities, why should they get to share their speech? Corporations are very explicitly a separate entity, and not merely the group of people working for it.
Nope. It is about prohibiting corporations and unions from using their funds to make independent expenditures for speech .
> In fact, some companies having a tendency to curb free speech through contracts denying people the right to talk about certain things.
Your example is strange. Such contracts are not imposed by the government.
> corporations get used to dodge personal liability by their owners and employees
You should clarify what you mean by this and how it is relevant to the issue at hand.
My argument is that only people are people. Corporations are explicitly different, and there's no good reason for corporations to automatically have the same rights as people.
The whole problem with Citizens United is that it uses the 1st amendment right of free speech for people to grant corporations the right to make political donations, which makes no sense. Corporations are not people and donations are not speech. It's no wonder that this leads to a political system that represents corporations more than it represents people.
I apologize if I'm rehashing some points covered a million times. What you described sounds prima facie reasonable, but then doesn't it follow that organizations should speak with the voices of people they're grouping together? So using your example, NYT should speak with the voices of its C-suite, or board, or investors - and not with the voices of its 4300 employees! That is, the "voice" should not scale with the company size. Scaling like this sounds like cheating to me, given that companies are mostly made of people who have no say in anything.
 - https://www.statista.com/statistics/192894/number-of-employe...
Usually those kind of generalisations are wrong and short-sighted, and I generally want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but at this point it's getting rather hard to deny.
I'm willing to believe that even the Bush jr. administration honestly believed in what they were doing, but everything that happened since then, from the way they tried to sabotage Obama in every possible way, and then electing Trump and the way they're trying to protect him, it's getting hard to deny that their primary priorities are apparently screwing poor and black people and women, ensuring corporate profits for their backers at any cost, and protecting anyone from their own party and screwing the other party, no matter how much it may hurt the country or the world.
> Insurance firms in each state are protected from interstate competition by the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act (1945)
Basically this is Congress using its interstate commerce power, in this case to prohibit certain types of commerce.
I find your choice of "abdicate" confusing. There is no Constitutional obligation that Congress act in a particular manner on this issue so that word choice just seems out of place to me. It suggests "not doing something" as opposed to "doing the wrong thing".
I think you are advocating that Congress take affirmative action to enable interstate insurance transactions and to preempt state regulations in this area. That seems reasonable to me.
No, I don't think so. The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate insurance. McCarran-Ferguson is Congress explicitly delegating insurance regulation to the states. Delegating regulation to the states is not a power derived from the Congress clause.
IANAL and I'm not sure exactly what the legal theory underpinning McCarran-Ferguson is. I believe it's probably an implied power.
> that word choice just seems out of place
Maybe abdicate isn't the best word choice, but what I was trying to impart is that when the SCOTUS decided that insurance does indeed fall under the purview of Federal law by way of the Commerce Clause, that Congress had to explicitly say that "Federal law does NOT apply to insurance." That's a sort of abdication to me:
SCOTUS: Hey Congress, it's your job to regulate insurance per the Commerce Clause. That means things like the Sherman Act apply to insurance too.
Congress: Oh, we don't want that. Let's pass McCarran-Ferguson to exempt insurance from Federal law so that the states can regulate it as they see fit.
In the short term, perhaps. Long-term, though, the government can't force anyone to provide healthcare; they can only prohibit charging more for it than their chosen price ceiling. If that ceiling isn't high enough to make providing healthcare a worthwhile occupation the inevitable result is shortages, rationing, waiting lists, and—ultimately—people going without health care they could otherwise afford, were anyone allowed to provide it at the market-clearing price.
I didn't even get a bill in the mail for it!
It's almost like some states/municipalities actually fund things and care about it, and they have good results.
Also, you do realize that this proposed solution essentially disempowers state governments from being responsive to citizen concerns about insurance policy/practice -- if a state can't control who sells in their state, then the only government shaping insurance policy is national.
Bonus points if you can address how these locales address the issue that health insurance is a weird good from a market perspective -- the more an individual needs it, the less an insurer probably wants to sell it to them, certainly for an averaged risk pool premium.
I totally want to see insurance decoupled from employment, but as far as I can tell, the state line thing isn't an analysis, it's just a mantra that was/is frequently dropped into the discussion without explanation or support.
Why should we trust them vs a random HN commenter?
It looks like this article isn't much different. It doesn't actually refute the claim that less regulation would result in lower healthcare premiums:
> In states with unregulated markets, “you could create a situation where you are selling very low-priced policies to healthy people without much [insurance] protection whatsoever,” Blumberg, who was a health policy adviser to President Bill Clinton’s administration, said in a phone interview. “But that ignores the fact that … what you’re doing is driving up the premiums to impossible levels” in states that want to have insurance regulations.
So removal of regulations would actually make healthcare premiums cheaper in the de-regulated areas. Potentially this makes the insurance more expensive in places that do have regulations, but it's actually agreeing with the claim that deregulation can make insurance cheaper.
> It’s a “risk-segmentation strategy,” she said, where eventually the healthy people are pulled into one set of plans and those with health problems are left in another. Premiums would go up so much in states with regulated plans that it would become impossible for them to sustain those regulations.
> Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said that the lion’s share of a premium is the money a plan has to pay for medical claims, as well as utilization. Selling insurance across state lines wouldn’t change the price of medical services — as Antos said — but if insurance companies could deny coverage or charge more for health conditions, a carrier could “push down on utilization by screening out sick people” and then, “they can charge a lower premium.”
Again, the article does admit that premiums would likely go down with less regulation.
It looks like your article isn't actually disproving the claim that insurance premiums would go down with less regulation. In fact it repeatedly does say that premiums would indeed go down, but that it would result in other changes like different coverage from what people are used to, and potentially making it harder for unhealthy people to get insurance.
Here's another source. There really is a lot: https://www.naic.org/documents/topics_interstate_sales_myths...
What they're saying breaches some of the most widely understood patterns of markets: that deliberate interference with markets through regulation drives up prices. Sometimes there are justifiable reasons for doing so, like making sure products are safe. If you mandate that all cars need airbags, prices are going to go up because now every car has the cost of a few airbags on top of whatever it cost previously. This claim that regulating the insurance market somehow keeps prices low goes into the same bucket of dubious claims like San Francisco progressives claiming that constructing new housing actually drives prices up and other claims of that sort.
It's likely true that health insurance premiums would be lower, on average, in an unregulated free market. It's also true that people with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage or charged substantially higher premiums in an unregulated free market. The current approach to subsidizing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions is less efficient than a tax-and-spend approach would be (see, e.g., ), but it's more politically viable since it doesn't show up in government bugets.
Having 50 different markets to regulate sure seems like it'd result in a lot more demand fore insurance regulators than one market to regulate.
> It's likely true that health insurance premiums would be lower, on average, in an unregulated free market. It's also true that people with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage or charged substantially higher premiums in an unregulated free market. The current approach to subsidizing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions is less efficient than a tax-and-spend approach would be (see, e.g., ), but it's more politically viable since it doesn't show up in government bugets.
Sure, there may be people who find the reasons for regulating the market to be more compelling enough to justify regulation. But that doesn't excuse the mental gymnastics required to convince oneself that this sort of regulation will somehow not only reduce costs but actually make things cheaper. This kind of thinking led us to having the poorest and unhealthiest patients subsidized by the rest of the nation - effectively a levying a flat tax on most insurance customers - and patting ourselves on the back as though this was a progressive change.
Also, your source is pretty dubious. I'm very skeptical of how analyzing the cost of helicopter ambulances specifically is supposed to be a good means of trying to back up the claim whether subsidy is less efficient than paying through taxes. Contrary to popular belief, most universal healthcare programs (e.g. most the ones in Western Europe, the UK being the notable exceptions) still leave the actual healthcare up to the private market.
The US spends more tax money on Medicare and Medicaid alone than what some countries spend per capita on providing universal healthcare..
Maybe copy one of the systems proven to work. They come in many flavours, many of which do include private insurers and healthcare providers that do just fine.
And the further reduced the tone of ambitiously taking any questions (especially on HN) the more you sound like somebody who migrated from 4chan to mess with us
Your comment has nothing to do with state boundaries.
Not convinced the free market will work for health insurance.
Any plan which doesn’t minimize or zero out the pool of uninsured Americans does nothing but drive up the cost of health care, and in turn the cost of insurance for everyone else, in a vicious circle. That’s the whole point of the last 30+ years of never ending ideas about what to do about health care in America. The whole point is to break that cycle, not even getting in to second order effects like exploding Medicare costs or actual public health issues.
So just like with car insurance, that minimal level of coverage would only include health care costs incurred by others as a result of your actions? The minimal required car insurance isn't there for you, it's there to ensure that others can recover their costs from you in the event of an accident. Unless you're paying extra for comprehensive coverage, the insurance company won't pay out for your own treatment or the repair of your own vehicle.
The only thing that might come close in the domain of healthcare would be mandatory coverage against the possibility of accidentally transmitting a contagious disease. It wouldn't cover the cost of your treatment, but rather the cost of treating others whom you accidentally infect. The premiums would be minimal (so long as one is vaccinated) and it wouldn't look anything like traditional health insurance.
Of course, even the "minimum" level of car insurance is only mandatory in connection with driving on public roads. Putting aside the minor issues of a power imbalance sufficient to imply duress at the best of times and the fact that you'll be paying taxes for those roads whether or not you're allowed to use them, this is somewhat analogous to terms and conditions for use of someone else's property. What you're proposing amounts to mandatory insurance just for being alive—essentially on the basis that denying you healthcare you can't or won't pay for might make others feel bad—which is a rather different proposition.
Really, though, a better question is what penalty you propose for not buying whatever "minimal level of coverage" you think people should have. My suggestion is simple and doesn't require any special intervention: If you're not insured, can't pay for it yourself, and can't convince anyone else to pay for it for you as a voluntary act of charity, you don't receive treatment. That is the natural punishment for not buying health insurance. There is no need for any other.
Employer-subsidized health care is not free.
The healthcare point is and has been a major point of debate in US politics for years. Just because a article that tangentially related to it doesn't happen to mention it doesn't mean it can't be discussed.
Really? What is it exactly that they like about that?
Employers and shareholders benefit significantly by reducing options for workers and by making it difficult for workers to change jobs; the source of the resistance is there, in the plain language of power, not in some imaginary spectrum of what's considered to be acceptable.
The 70% don't understand that Medicare for all would kill off the private insurance industry.
A lot of people like the idea of a single-payer system but they never assume they would be forced to give up their current private insurance.
Tell people that their private insurance would go out of business or become restricted to very high net worth individuals, and then ask them how much they like Medicare for all. The polling numbers would drop like a rock. Everyone likes the idea of Medicare for all when it applies to other people but not to themselves.
Perhaps they do undestand and simply don't care? Why should they? Insurance is a parasitic industry.
That's kind of the point of public healthcare. So that regular people would not be forced to have private insurance.
> private insurance would go out of business
I don't know. If my 30M country with public healthcare can have players offering many different policies of medical insurance, surely your 300M country could work it out too.
objectively not true in countries with public insurance.
Employment "benefits" extend considerably outside medical cover. Speaking internationally, they often cover minimum wages, parental leave, minimum holiday requirements, pensions, often some form of income protection for long term sickness, and very often a swathe of worker rights that protect an employee from crappy employment practices (YMMV locally).
These are serious things you should not shrug off; things that make your society better. Making them optional "allows" contractors to undercut employees, but this is less a choice in practice and more a wholesale movement to a disposable workforce. Any industry with a low enough skill threshold is pushing existing employees into contractors. Great if you're a business, less if you're a single parent. You have no choice. You save no money. You just lose your benefits.
So by all means push for better healthcare systems but it's a unicorn in this context. I think you're actually —and inadvertently, I'm sure— pushing for modern day slavery under the guise of "free will". That's just where unfettered capitalism goes. I say we protect more people by recognising that they're not the ants their employers see them as. Them having rights protects us all.
Healthcare is a red herring. Ignore it.
These types of worker have no power. The supply of unskilled workers is endless and —without regulation— companies can drive conditions and remuneration lower and lower. Giving up benefits is just another cost saved for the company, not the employee.
That's why I think it's important we do regulate employment, so that people aren't having their otherwise-deserved benefits stripped away under this happy-go-lucky "gig economy" label.
Case in point, when Uber/Lyft was forced to pay their drivers a minimum wage that accounted for expenses, Uber and Lyft stopped accepting new drivers in New York City. They were force to act according to true supply and demand.
Uber was saying drivers could make 90k a year back in 2014
Which lead to this
The free market will almost always devolve into worker exploitation unless there are rules.
It was a measure aimed at preventing Uber from externalizing their costs on society.
The only ones who lose here are Taxi drivers who are being undercut. Taxi drivers don't represent "society", they represent the taxi lobby.
So what does a post Uber/post VC ad hoc transit market look like?
Once the VC dries up the market will start to show it's true colors and it may be that the model isn't sustainable, although I think it probably should be once rates rise.
The idea is that while it is nice to enjoy subsidized rides at the moment, as a consumer you may suffer in the future due to Uber establishing a monopoly.
Even if Uber gained 100% share of car rides in an area, if they decided to exploit that by increasing their prices it would be relatively easy to create a competing company and undercut them.
Uber is basically a legal Ponzi scheme.
We shouldn't put bubble wrap around everything in the hopes that no one can ever do anything that might harm themselves. This kind of mindset restricts the freedom of everybody.
Anyway the point I was making is that the bagholders are the little people.
Uber offered a rate that was subsidized by investors. That is not true supply and demand.
Subsidies just increase the supply at the lower prices on the curve.
See, on party here has a lot more data on said expenses, and all the incentives in the world to be misleading about them.
The existing demand was not "true" under the reasonable assumption that nobody wants to work for less than minimum wage after expenses.
Yes, and there are also people willing to work in unsafe conditions, work in illegal industries, and trade with the country's enemies. The "free market", as implemented almost anywhere, has never been synonymous with trading with whoever you want on whatever terms.
People definitely are willing to work below minimum wage; that's exactly why we need minimum wage!
It's certainly not a nice analytic function, but clearly the higher the minimum wage, the fewer jobs make economic sense.
If I could pay someone a couple of bucks a day to open and close my garage door, I could afford that. But the minimum wage is far beyond that, so I got an electric door opener instead.
If it allows more people to buy iPhones then most of the jobs created by that is made in China, which doesn't help local economy much.
>If it allows more people to buy iPhones then most of the jobs created by that is made in China
Only a small part of the value of an iPhone is captured by China. Not much of it goes to the local economy either, but luxury electronics are also a small fraction of the economy.
Dining out, groceries, retail, housing, transportation, entertainment, travel, child care, home repair, cell phone repair, medical care etc... the local economy captures a large percentage of all of those.
"Want" is a complicated term in this context, but there are plenty of non-gig employees earning minimum wage or above, but less than minimum wage after subtracting expenses like commuting.
That's an unreasonable assumption, especially when that "minimum wage" is 17$.
They’re more reliable in more areas. If I lose something, I’ll get it back. The drivers are less likely to be on their phone, and if they are, it takes less effort to get compensated. (Also, pools are cheaper than taxis.)
With most taxi medallions owned by companies as, if not more, abusive than Uber, a congestion charge appears to be the best solution. This would lower supply evenly, letting prices be raised and thus creating room for compensation (and competition for drivers).
Of course rideshares are more reliable - and better across pretty much every possible metric! - but they are no longer cheaper across the board in the metro areas I have used them. Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they cost more, and in both cases we are now expected to tip.
Since they are not employees, they don't get a wage, so minimum wage laws don't apply.
> Case in point, when Uber/Lyft was forced to pay their drivers a minimum wage that accounted for expenses, Uber and Lyft stopped accepting new drivers in New York City. They were force to act according to true supply and demand.
This was the result of the city of New York deciding, on behalf of the taxi lobby, that there were too many Ubers on the street, so they fixed the supply to make the average pay add up to 17$/hour (which is not a minimum wage either).
Real supply of drivers was higher than that, people that wanted to drive at lower price were effectively prohibited from entering the market.
To answer your question: A "rural life" in a "tight-knit community" would be a horror scenario for me. To each their own.
All of the drivers I've asked over 1000's of rides have said they prefer the freedom and flexibility to work on their own time. Yes they want more money, but not at the cost of the flexibility. They already have day jobs, or are students, retirees, business owners, etc, and are making extra income with an opportunity that wouldn't otherwise exist.
Perhaps the tiny handful of people who are suing to become employees should just go out and become employees instead of trying to change the rules for everyone else.
All of the drivers I've asked
over 1000's of rides
There’s also the economics of oversupply. It’s easy low skill flex work so there will be a lot of competition.
The only argument to be made here potentially is that some of the gamified rewards incentives to keep driving might be questionable and make the relationship more employer/employee-like.
It does imply having labour protections. And in the US it also implies having healthcare.
In summary, I would say being an employee in the US most certainly does not imply you will have access to healthcare.
I'm not advocating that we tell the full-timers "tough luck" by any means, I just think it is important to keep in mind when these topics come up that unlike some industries, the workforce isn't necessarily uniformly filled with employees seeking a "job" job with full benefits and the works, and in fact the business model of the company may rely on this. Doesn't make the suffering of the employees who are trying to make a go at it any less valid, but it does give a fuller view of the situation.
Having a driving job is the opposite of what the vast majority of drivers actually want.
Same with food delivery companies. The drivers have to provide and maintain the vehicle, organize their own health care, pension and insurance. Some companies even disallow them to work for different companies, which is a direct violation of the contractor dynamic.
Recently a Dutch judge ruled that these food delivery contractors were not actual free agents but bound to their one supplier of rides. The judged ruling was that this is not correct as they lacked the freedom to work for other companies.
I find it very disappointing that companies like Uber and Airbnb managed to create these amazing platforms but have such disrespect for the wellbeing of their workers or how they affect communities in the world.
That's the innovation and the reason for the multi-billion dollar VC valuations while Uber was private. The app/platform is nearly a commodity at this point. Most taxi companies in my area have apps with similar features.
Edit: Notice that Lyft is basically the same story and Airbnb's main value-add is stripping regulations from the short term rental industry (formerly dominated by regulated hotels and BnBs). When someone pitches an "Uber but for X" they're often implicitly saying that they want to strip job security and labor protections from the people doing X and consumer protections from the people using X.
I'd say its much more likely when the average person wants 'Uber but for X' they mean cheaper prices for better service than X.
Taxis got completely destroyed by Uber because they are often rude, unclean, (unpredictably) expensive and scammy.
Hotels feel so much heat from AirBNB because AirBNB offers better 'suites', at better locations, for 25-50% cheaper.
Most people are only fleetingly aware of the problems these services cause by externalizing a lot of costs.
What profits are you referring to? My issue with this line of thinking is that it basically makes it sound like these companies are sitting on some huge volume of excess cashflow that they could freely give to their contractors if they simply chose to do so.
AFAICT, they actually charge similar rates to taxis (which also usually use contractors here) while not making as much money, and providing a vastly better end user experience.
I don't see a lot of room for better worker pay here.