Business should support single payer health care'

Jul 14 2017
Phil Steck
Albany Business Review/letter to the editor

As an elected official, I appreciate the job done by both our local health insurers CDPHP and MVP. We have MVP, and their service has been excellent.

Cost is the issue that compels me to support the single payer solution. It is business that should be clamoring for single payer. I repeat: It is business that should be clamoring for single payer. At Health Committee hearings, we heard sworn testimony from businesses who support this solution.

For example, outside of my public position, I am a partner in a business that pays $20,000 per employee for family coverage, a very typical amount. Let’s take an employee making $45,000 a year. Let’s assume the firm pays 80 percent of family coverage, which, by the way, is now unusually high. Under the New York Health Act, the premium for a person earning $45,000 a year would be 9 percent of payroll, or $4,050, 80 percent paid by the employer and 20 percent by the employee, or $3,240 and $810 respectively. Assuming the employer pays 80 percent, or $16,000, of the private insurance premium, the employer would realize a savings of over $10,000 under the single payer alternative. At 20 percent, the employee would save over $3,000.

Mathematics should win out over anti-government ideology. It already has elsewhere in the world.

Under the private insurance model, single payer offers lower insurance premiums because it, like Medicare, spends only 2 percent on administrative costs. And no, this is not an additional tax. Medicaid, which we already support through both income and property taxes, would be eliminated. Medicare would be subsumed in the single payer plan.

This is a substitute for health insurance premiums. Of course, firms that do not pay for health insurance for their employees would have to under single payer. Certainly, that group would lose.

However, the competitive position of most firms in New York would improve dramatically. They would be paying for less for health insurance than their counterparts in other states, and now, for the first time, they would be on an even playing field with foreign competitors.

Finally, I must note that the stock transfer tax is not part of the New York Health Act legislation. New York did have a small sales tax on the sales of stocks and bonds from 1915 until 1979, when it came to be rebated back to Wall Street. Notwithstanding the small tax, which was a flea on the back of an elephant, and which is advocated by many economists as a way to discourage day trading, Wall Street kept marching forward. While reinstating that tax could be used to rebuild New York’s aging and flagging infrastructure, since it would raise $16 billion, it has nothing to do with the single payer model.

 Phil Steck is a Member of Assembly, 110th District (Colonie, Niskayuna, Schenectady)

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