In the world of U.S. web workers, health insurance is an often covered topic, with plenty of media outlets and government figures piping in to discuss the difficulty of getting coverage and the possible benefits of a universal care from the perspective of the individual mobile worker. When it comes to employers, however, the most often heard opinions are those of organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which fought hard against healthcare reform last year.
The public at large could be forgiven for assuming that most CEOs are against greater government involvement in healthcare, but at least one chief executive is speaking up for web workers and addressing the problem of obtaining health coverage. Mike Paolucci, CEO and founder of Solvate, a platform to connect freelance talent and employers that has been covered in the past on WebWorkerDaily, boldly predicted that universal healthcare is “coming down the pike for sure.”
Noting that “health care leads to a more mobile society,” Paolucci said the issue was “one of the things that hasn’t been talked about” and went on to outline the benefits of being an independent worker and the role universal health care could play in promoting a more flexible workforce:
It will let people go forward and choose what they want to do and I think that’s a tremendous advantage. When you have a full-time job, you’re not entirely free. You have to go into work. You have to play within that political structure and sometimes you have to do things that might compromise your values, but you do it because you’re forced to play the political game. When people have 10 or 20 clients, it’s very empowering. It’s basically saying, I am in control of my own destiny. I’m no longer at risk to the same degree from things like an economic downturn where I could all of a sudden lose all of my work.
Perhaps more importantly, Paolucci goes on to argue that a more flexible workforce, promoted by universal health care, is good for both individual companies and the economy in general as well:
I feel like it would lead to a richer, more flexible economy because instead of a one-to-one employment relationship, the economy would have a many-to-many relationship for both companies and freelancers. If you look at the economic impact of a layoff, not only does it take all of that productivity and it goes to zero, but in a lot of cases that employee is going on unemployment, so they actually become a drag on the economy. In a situation where instead of cutting back from all to nothing, you cut back a lot of freelancers, you’re effectively reining in your costs to meet flexibly whatever demand you have. At the same time, you’re not losing all of that training and knowledge, so there’s not that waste of saying, “I’ve had this guy involved in my business for a year and now I have to let him go,” and then when the economy comes back he’s probably moved on to something else. There’s waste involved in that.
Of course, the idea that a system of universal health care would be a boon for the economy is more than a little controversial.
Do you agree with Paolucci that universal healthcare would be good not just for individual workers but for the economy in general as well?