O jornal eletrônico Slate foi na "veia": a crise da GM já apontada aqui é decorrente dos gastos enormes em assistência médica aos seus empregados, ao contrário do que ocorre no Japão, Europa e Brasil onde há uma rede estatal. Esse é mais um argumento - econômico, competitivo, comercial - para que os Estados Unidos adote cobertura universal do cuidado médico.
Health Costs Screw Business, TooThe victim Sicko won't acknowledge.
By Timothy NoahPosted Monday, July 2, 2007, at 2:01 AM ET Michael Moore (left) rabble-rouses in Sicko. Because he's a documentary filmmaker and not a politician, Michael Moore isn't obliged to pretend that fixing America's health-care system is a mere matter of realigning market forces. Moore's new film, Sicko, makes a straightforward case for "socialized medicine." Most other industrialized democracies have adopted some form of socialized medicine—Sicko visits France, Britain, and Canada—and while Moore can be faulted for depicting these health-care systems as flawless, the truth is that in most respects they are superior to the American system. Sicko tells story after heartbreaking story about ordinary people getting screwed out of the health-care benefits they thought they had coming. Yet one significant victim of America's market-based health-care system is left out: market capitalism itself. I refer not to health insurers, nor to health-maintenance organizations, nor to for-profit hospitals, but rather to businesses outside the health-care sector that are saddled with the growing cost of providing health insurance to their employees. This obligation puts American companies at a disadvantage with respect to foreign competitors whose governments provide health care. The most obvious victim, ironically, is a company Moore knows very well: General Motors. Because of health-care obligations, the automaker that Moore pilloried in his first film, Roger and Me, is fighting for its life. As Jonathan Cohn relates in his recent book Sick, private health insurance first came into being during the Great Depression, when doctors realized they had priced themselves out of the market. In the United States, health-insurance plans were organized on a nonprofit basis by hospitals working through fraternal organizations like the Elks and the Shriners. These were sufficiently successful that for-profit insurance companies got into the act. Businesses started displacing the Elks, et al., as dispensers of health-care insurance during the 1940s. It was a way for companies to get around wartime wage controls in a tight labor market. The government further accelerated the trend by exempting company and individual expenses for health insurance from the income tax. Pretty soon, health insurance was a routine part of the pay package offered by all but the very smallest employers