On Tuesday I argued that bloggers (and other content creators) can’t really work alone. Wednesday I noted some of the technologies and systems being developed to organize people via the Internet. But technology isn’t enough. To sustain a network of small, independent media producers we need new national policies, and the most important of these is a way to provide affordable health care coverage.
That there is a health care crisis, even for those with insurance, is beyond debate. Health care was an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. Congress is now considering legislation to improve small business access and affordability through “association health plans” — buying pools intended to make it easier for like-businesses (butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, for instance) to attain more affordable coverage. Association plans are not new and their pros and cons have been debated. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published a guest editorial by the president of that city’s Chamber of Commerce that began like this:
“Pressure is mounting in the U.S. Senate to schedule a vote soon on legislation (H.R. 525/S. 406) intended to help small businesses with skyrocketing health insurance costs. But in spite of good intentions, the bill, if enacted into law, would drive up premiums for most small employers and put at risk the health care security of millions of small business employees who rely on employment-based coverage.”
Okay, so that’s one business leader’s opinion. Others doubtless support the plan. And if you read the full Post-Gazette op-ed, as I did, you’ll see that it does not say what single thing the author would have Congress do instead.
Nevertheless, I like this sentiment further down in that same opinion piece:
“Whether we maintain the current employment-based approach through which most working Americans have health insurance coverage today, or we eventually convert to a nationalized health care system, our country can’t be economically competitive, and our citizens can’t be confident of their future health care security, unless we tame the monster of runaway health care costs.”
My health care focus naturally springs from my circumstances. In the course of having our third child, my wife developed a cancer that was diagnosed and excised with minimal side effect (and keep your fingers crossed, no recurrence). My employer-paid health plan covered everything and gave us access to the world specialists in our peculiar malady. So we were lucky — well, as lucky as is possible under the circumstances.
But many Americans are driven into bankruptcy by health expenses. And millions of us remain entirely uninsured. If we are to recreate media as an industry populated by small producers we must solve this health care crisis. As you go about your various activities, please keep this somewhere in mind.
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media