By Robert Blake, M.D.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters, May 3, 2020
Millions of Americans depend on employment-based health insurance, but problems caused by the linkage of insurance to employment are increasingly evident. Notably, a major flaw of employment-based insurance is glaringly exposed in this pandemic: Lose your job and lose your insurance.
Approximately 30 million Americans have become unemployed over the last month. Many of them and their family members have already lost or soon will lose health insurance. They have the option of continuing their insurance for up to 18 months, but they must pay the entire premium, a financial impossibility for many. While the government may pay for management of pandemic-related illnesses, coverage for all other medical conditions vanishes.
Many Americans are recognizing the value of a single-payer Medicare for All system. Medicare recipients have much to worry about in the current crisis, but they do not need to worry about losing their health insurance. The pandemic dramatically highlights the dangers of coupling insurance and employment, and it emphasizes our need for a government-sponsored health program that covers us all.