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Summary:

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 it. Mike Paolucci, CEO of Solvate, predicted that universal healthcare is “coming down the pike for sure.”

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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?

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  1. Healthcare has been made dramatically complex by the government and it is iconic that more government involvement is supposed to fix it. Be careful what you wish for. On the surface, not having to pay for your own healthcare sounds great. It takes away one of the major fears of failure. But isn’t the fear of failure what drives so many web workers to excel! I would advocate what would help web workers more is to have more portable healthcare coverage and take the burden off of employers to be providing it. Healthcare coverage should be just as available as your auto or home insurance. Detaching the coverage from a place of employment is what webworkers need, not another poor to mediocre government run industry.

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  2. When people write “Universal Healthcare” don’t they mean “affordable” or fairely-priced healthcare? I know Mike and love the web-enabled temp agency model he’s running (I’ve used it), but don’t all workers need affordable healthcare without the tax imposed by a middleman insurer? All companies, all sizes, whether freelance or not? I would argue against his position and say that I would hire a lot more full-time engineers and use temps less if healthcare costs were lower.

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  3. Oh my! This is utter bunk; I don’t know where to being.

    First off, restriction on healthcare freedom in the current system are one of its serious flawvs but its a problem created by government. More government control is not the solution. It’s also a factor of healthcare being tied to an employer, which also limits choice in location and employment. The solution is soo much more simple and economical than government run healthcare. Portability: eliminate state restrictions and employer based groups. This will drive down cost and allow free choice.

    Government run/single payer healthcare always increases the cost of healthcare. Always. It also reduces the quality and quantity of care available. The choice a person has becomes limited to the government budget decided by people they don’t know and who don’t care about them. At least now we are only limited by our own resources and health plans. Wait until it’s a budget item being decided on by corrupt politicians, and when the government is already broke!

    Name one government program, ever, that has spent wisely and managed efficiently. There isn’t one; it’s the nature of bureaucracy. You see it in large corporations and it’s even worse in government because there’s no profit or employment motive. Now ask yourself, do you really want to go from rough to impossible and pay more for it? Yes, you pay. It’s called taxes. Ask Canada/Britain/Cuba about it. While you’re at it, ask why it’s so hard to see a doctor for anything other than routine services.

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  4. In fact, it’s the only way to go, since it spreads the risk pool and thus makes insurance affordable. It will take this country a long, long time to get there, if ever, since there’s so much misinformation about it and politicians will use every opportunity to fear-monger against “socialized” health-care. As the CEO of a very small company, it would allow us to contribute to our worker’s universal health care rather than offering no health-care at all…

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  5. The outcomes you mention are indeed appealing for those who want mobility/flexibility. Universal healthcare is a ways off so for those who can’t wait, I suggest individuals and startups do what I call “Do it Yourself Health Reform” – see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-chase/do-it-yourself-health-ref_b_787214.html. Since leaving the mothership (i.e., big employer with a Cadillac health plan) 8 years ago and being a consultant and entrepreneur, I’ve taken this approach. It does require one to become more literate on the nuances of the health payment system (aka The Gordian Knot designed by Rube Goldberg).

    If you want to take a serious look at how our (U.S.) system compares to others, read “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better Healthcare”. An objective look shows that there are some things we do well (crisis, high tech healthcare) and others terribly (we’re the world’s leader, by far, in medically induced bankruptcies).

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  6. Not even close. Before even approaching the economic question, we need to ask “Is it right; is it just; is it fair?” The answer to each of those is a resounding “NO”. Frankly, it amazes me that anyone who works for themselves could possibly support a socialist program such as this (and that is exactly what it is – socialism).

    I can understand why those who are used to living off the work and wealth of others through welfare programs liking socialized health care. They are so used to living by theft that they don’t even recognize it as such. A web-worker should certainly know better though. It is usually the independence of it that attracts us to this type of work in the first place. Advocating socialism in any form should be the farthest thing from any independent man’s mind.

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