Editor’s Note: This article was written in August 2012 but its message continues to be relevant today…..
Did you hear how the owner of Papa John’s pizza is complaining how the price of pizza will go up by 14 cents per pie because the Affordable Healthcare Act requires him to offer health insurance to his employees? Papa John is trying to make a big deal out of how the new requirements under “Obamacare” are going to cost us and his company more money.
For me the big surprise was that Papa John did not already offer health insurance to his 16,500 employees. That’s right, 16,500! What kind of “papa” doesn’t take care of the employees under his wing? Making a big deal about this 14 cents per pizza speaks more about the lack of caring by Papa John than anything else.
Okay, so Papa John did not offer health care to his employees. He’s not alone in not not offering coverage. He is like so many companies and owners who focus on the bottom line without a comparable focus on the human needs of their employees, they justify within their minds passing along the cost of their employees healthcare to others. Who are those others?
One is the government. Who is the government? You and me. Our taxes fund the “commons” – those aspects of society that we share in the cost and the benefit. Think of schools, roads, clean water, ensuring our food is safe, parks, clean air, police protection, our military and so on. Included within this list of the commons those safety net protections we provide people who cannot provide for themselves. Among these are healthcare for the indigent and uninsured. By law, hospitals cannot turn away individuals who present themselves at emergency rooms with life-threatening situations. Government monies help defray the cost.
The second “other” is the health-insurance paid for by you and I. In other words, medical providers who provide health services to those who cannot pay raise their rates to those who can. Most folks who can pay have health insurance. Our health insurance costs go up because we’re helping pay for the services provided those without health insurance – like Papa John’s employees.
There’s an old adage “pay me now or pay me later”. That applies here. Papa John would rather we pay higher taxes and higher health insurance cost so that he won’t have to charge 14 cents more per pizza. I’d rather he charge the higher pizza cost. That way his employees have health insurance and the enhanced human dignity that comes with it.
Think about it. If you have health insurance, you go to the doctor when you need to do so. You maintain your health. You don’t wait until it’s an emergency and you have to go to the ER. Also consider the feeling you have when the person checking you in asks for your health insurance card. What is that feeling when you have coverage? What is that feeling when you don’t? In which case do you believe the person is experiencing more dignity?
Now, to be clear, I’m a progressive who believes that we should have a public option or single payer system like England or Canada. I don’t think that our human right to affordable health care should to be tied to our employment. But for reasons that were a part of our country’s history in the early part of the twentieth, we have historically chosen to make that linkage. Until we can progress to the point where we can let go of that connection, we are stuck with getting our health care coverage via our employer. Or in the case of Papa John, not getting it. Papa John would rather his employees have that feeling of less dignity when going to the health care provider than charge us a few cents more for a pizza.
I’m sure glad Papa John isn’t my Papa.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!