You’re only as healthy as the least-insured person in society
February 28, 2020 10:29 AM   Subscribe

“ For all but the independently wealthy in America, the best-case scenario for getting sick is being a person with good health insurance, paid time off, and a reasonable boss who won’t penalize you for taking a few sick days or working from home. For millions of the country’s workers, such a scenario is a nearly inconceivable luxury.” The Problem With Telling Sick Workers to Stay Home. The novel Coronavirus isn’t very deadly, that’s why it’s dangerous (The Atlantic) With 2 out of the 5 most common jobs in America bring food service or prep related, industry workers have taken to Twitter to describe how dangerous the current workplace and healthcare ituation is for staff and customers. Meanwhile, Doctors Prescribe Medicare-for-All: Single Payer Reform Endorsed by America's Largest Medical Specialty Society - The Lancet: “... a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services.” - Multiple Studies Show Medicare For All Saves Money (The Week) Why We Should Be Madder About The Uninsured
posted by The Whelk (36 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
At a previous job a coworker would be in the office regardless of circumstances: Whether he had the cold, or a sports injury, or paid vacation time to use up. At one point he had developed a chronic illness that left him in constant pain, but he wouldn't go to the doctor because it would mean missing work time. I finally asked his boss to tell him to seek medical attention.

This was a guy holding down a well-paying white-collar tech job with good health care coverage, living well below his means thanks to being able to live single, childless, rent- and mortgage-free. But he was absolutely afraid of being perceived as a not-good-enough worker and that becoming the first domino to fall on his financial security.
posted by at by at 10:46 AM on February 28 [35 favorites]


Not mentioned in those articles: How companies' "go home if you're sick" policies lead people to take over-the-counter meds that mask the symptoms. They tend to prevent or reduce coughing too, which does help. But knowing you'll be sent home without pay if someone notices you're sick, means not taking measures like wearing a mask or avoiding group meetings.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:48 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Just emailed our cleaning service that we will happily pay cleaners their usual rate to stay home instead of cleaning our house, if they're sick. About to send the same note to the music school that employs our kids' piano teacher. Please do the same if anyone has a workplace that includes your home and you can even sort of afford it. I can't influence sick time policies in my country as a whole but I can certainly raise my hand to foot the bill for the people who make my life easier week after week.
posted by potrzebie at 11:09 AM on February 28 [52 favorites]


I can't influence sick time policies in my country as a whole but I can certainly raise my hand to foot the bill for the people who make my life easier week after week.


Good job. And then remember you can vote, and help bring out the vote.
posted by mumimor at 11:13 AM on February 28 [12 favorites]


It's not just the lack of pay. Many workers in food service are not protected from being fired if they call in sick. You might not just lose your pay - you might also lose your job.

When I worked for a coffee shop, I had to worry about that. If I got sick I had to call my coworkers and hope to find someone who could cover my shift for me. It was definitely considered my problem and my responsibility to take care of it. The only thing stopping my boss from firing me was the cost of training a replacement.

My boss didn't fire me when I couldn't find a replacement. At least it wasn't that bad. But it happens to plenty of other workers.

You aren't supposed to go into work sick. But you aren't supposed to stay home when you're sick, either. I guess you're just supposed to ... not ever get sick? Our culture is so fucked up, we punish workers for having human bodies.

The fun part of this story is that the location I usually worked at was inside a hospital. I served immunocompromised people, their families, their doctors, etc.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:14 AM on February 28 [38 favorites]


I recently learned that Oregon guarantees paid time off for sick leave:
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday signed what advocates are calling the nation’s most progressive paid family and medical leave measure, making the state the first in the country to offer 100% wage replacement for minimum-wage workers.
(Or WILL, starting in 2023. Still, late is better than not at all.)

I had no idea Oregon was passing trailblazing laws like that. California should follow suit.
posted by kristi at 11:15 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


Right now, the official message from our government is that the coronavirus is bad but it is something we can handle and no one should panic. But what they also say is that we are entering an age where there will be regular pandemics, for several reasons*, so we need to get used to quarantines and travel bans.
This makes me think that it won't be long before the international society begins to see the lack of universal health care in the US as a threat to global health. And as a consequence, the US will be isolated when those pandemics arise.

* Things I remember being mentioned are drug resistant bacteria, climate change, urbanization and lack of control with livestock production and processing. All things where the US have different standards of regulation from Europe.
posted by mumimor at 11:25 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


This makes me think that it won't be long before the international society begins to see the lack of universal health care in the US as a threat to global health. And as a consequence, the US will be isolated when those pandemics arise.

* Things I remember being mentioned are drug resistant bacteria, climate change, urbanization and lack of control with livestock production and processing. All things where the US have different standards of regulation from Europe.


I think one of the biggest cultural adjustments we're seeing in my lifetime -- and it's not even really taken hold in mainstream U.S. culture is the idea that the U.S. is not, in fact, the world leader on things that improve global wellbeing, and that we're either going to have to adjust to being members of an interdependent global economy with all that implies or we'll suffer the consequences.

For people who are still coasting on the WWII narrative of U.S.-exceptionalism-we're-number-one!, it's going to be a real mindfuck when they can no longer pretend the pop culture, culinary trends and money all flow in ways that put the U.S. first.
posted by sobell at 12:34 PM on February 28 [50 favorites]


For people who are still coasting on the WWII narrative of U.S.-exceptionalism-we're-number-one!, it's going to be a real mindfuck when they can no longer pretend the pop culture, culinary trends and money all flow in ways that put the U.S. first.

Welcome to post-Empire life. It will probably take you more than 75 years to adjust.

Signed The UK.
posted by plonkee at 1:04 PM on February 28 [62 favorites]


One thing that will make the US sit up and take notice is a sustained campaign to get foreign tourists to shun the US on account of coronavirus and what it will do in the US. An EU advisory to that effect, issued the moment coronavirus cases begin to mount in the US, and let the media do the rest.
posted by ocschwar at 2:05 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Well, at least the "US as an Empire" phase only lasted about 70 years. We'll probably get over it much quicker than you guys in the UK.
posted by sideshow at 2:15 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


two things going on:

People are now being released from Coronavirus isolation and getting medical bills for it and setting up GoFundMes about it ... which is going to keep people from going into observation or hospital.

This thread about the amateur radio emergency network (ARES/RACES) and there's a heated discussion going on with 2/3 of the members saying Coronavirus is nothing because Trump said it's fine. No one in this group are under 55, they are prime in the risk pool for Coronavirus, and they won’t even PREPARE for it just in case cause preparing for it is being disloyal to Trump. These people have engineering degrees and part of system designed to deal with stuff like pandemics and they have a religious devotion to the president getting in the way. “ These are the most emergency/prepper trending people imaginable and a majority of them are just blindly in love with Trump and see this as a coordinated attack on him.”
posted by The Whelk at 3:49 PM on February 28 [31 favorites]


I would like to support local small businesses but I don't know if they have their workers come in sick. This is a deterrent.
posted by Baeria at 4:08 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Whelk, where have you seen people setting up crowdfunding for quarantine-related medical expenses?
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:28 PM on February 28




I don’t know if it’s the same person or not, but I read today that someone was billed $2200 for one of the evacuee flights. Guys, I’m starting to get the impression that the current administration is just a giant grift?
posted by Automocar at 5:25 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


I'll never understand why conservatives don't get the wider meaning of why people used to take canaries into coal mines. What takes the weak comes soon enough for you.
posted by Redhush at 5:32 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Apropos prepper stuff, a reminder that if you prep for this pandemic, you are also potentially prepping for a general strike.
posted by ocschwar at 5:37 PM on February 28 [13 favorites]


No one in this group are under 55

Not true, my sister is in that group and she's only 38. /s

But yeah, she is definitely an outlier in gender and age. Although, the dudes she hangs with are more into "the government is always generally run by morons" vs "All Hail Lord Emperor Trump", so they generally think things are always doing worse than whatever the president says no matter who it is.
posted by sideshow at 8:50 PM on February 28






First U.S. death from coronavirus reported in Washington State (link to WaPo rolling updates).
posted by sallybrown at 10:29 AM on February 29


Inside Trump’s frantic attempts to minimize the coronavirus crisis WaPo
I don't know what to quote, it's all incredibly alarming.
posted by mumimor at 11:22 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


6 deaths now, 96 DXed, and I just had someone on Twitter tell me that Canada's testing program is "much much worse" than the USA's...
posted by jrochest at 1:45 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


When Coronavirus Quarantine Is Class Warfare (Charlie Warzel in NYT):
In The Atlantic recently, Ian Bogost argued that “contemporary society has been bracing, and even longing, for quarantine” and that “being holed up at home has never been more pleasant.” He’s right.

But that pleasantness is heavily underwritten by a “vast digital underclass.” Many services that allow you to stay at home work only when others have to be out in the world on your behalf.
posted by Lyme Drop at 5:41 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]




Inequalities of US health system put coronavirus fight at risk, experts say
In countries with universal healthcare, people do not always go to the doctor when they are sick. But the deterrent is never the threat of high medical bills. “This is almost a uniquely American problem when it comes to the developed world,” Blumenthal said.
posted by mumimor at 6:19 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]




Washington State insurance commissioner orders insurers to allow early prescription refills, pay for coronavirus testing, and suspend prior authorization for coronavirus treatment.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:18 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Rhode Island offers unemployment and temporary disability benefits to quarantined residents (WPRI).

Seattle will not shut off utilities for individuals or business who miss payments, for the duration of the civil emergency (Seattle Times).

Iceland will compensate people in quarantine who can't work remotely (WaPo).

McDonalds workers call for paid sick leave and other protections for impacted workers (WaPo).

Coronavirus brings a new legislative push for paid sick leave (NYT).
posted by mbrubeck at 5:39 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


And an update already on the McDonald’s story: McDonald’s to Pay Corporate Workers for Two Weeks in Quarantine (Bloomberg.com).
McDonald’s new policy follows an announcement from Walmart Inc., which started an emergency leave policy in response to the outbreak. On Monday, Olive Garden operator Darden Restaurants Inc. announced a new paid sick leave policy.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:45 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Oregon was passing trailblazing laws like that. California should follow suit.

What Colorado's Public Health Insurance Push Means for Democrats - "Democrats won control of the state legislature in 2018, and Democratic Governor Jared Polis has put reducing health-care costs at the top of his agenda. Polis created an Office of Saving People Money on Health Care and promoted a number of ideas to lower spending, including the so-called public option. Colorado follows Washington state, which passed the first public health insurance option last year. Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Mexico have weighed their own versions in recent years."
Colorado’s state-sponsored plans would start in 2022 and initially be targeted at the 7% of the population who buy their own coverage directly, instead of getting it from employers or through other government programs. The plans would offer premiums about 11% lower than what’s available today, on average, in the state’s individual insurance market, and as much as 17% lower in some places, according to an outline of the proposal by health and insurance authorities released last November.

To reduce costs, the state has taken aim at cutting how much money health-care companies can make. Authorities proposed that the public plans should be administered by private health insurance companies. The state would set the prices paid to hospitals according to “a clear, public, and transparent formula,” the outline says, rather than leaving insurance companies to negotiate rates. Insurers, in turn, would be required to offer the public option plans across the state, including in rural counties with no competition today. They’d also face tighter limits on how much premium revenue they can keep for administrative costs and profits.

While Democratic presidential candidates blame pharmaceutical companies and health insurers for the high price of care across the country, Colorado politicians are clashing most fiercely with the hospital industry. Health-care costs have continued to soar, even after the Affordable Care Act placed restrictions on health-insurer profits, says Kerry Donovan, a Colorado state senator who’s co-sponsoring the public option legislation. “The missing factor has got to be the hospital systems,” she says. “You don’t have to exactly have a doctorate in economics to come to that conclusion.”[1]
Universal Basic Income Bill Introduced In California Legislature - "This bill [AB 2712] would require the department, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature, to administer the California Universal Basic Income Program, under which a California resident who is 18 years of age or older shall receive a universal basic income of $1,000 per month, except as specified. The bill would define universal basic income to mean unconditional cash payments of equal amounts issued monthly to individual residents of California with the intention of ensuring the economic security of recipients."

Welcome to post-Empire life. It will probably take you more than 75 years to adjust.

Carlota Perez: "Corona virus has revealed the need for basic income in a UK society that has almost 5 mill people in part or self-employment that cannot go on quarantine at the risk of earning nothing at all. We need a safety net that fits the 21st century conditions."

your periodic reminder that the entire financial system is a creature of law and can be reconfigured at any time but in the united states we just won't: "Italy suspends MORTGAGE payments in the wake of coronavirus outbreak's economic impact on families and small businesses"
posted by kliuless at 4:32 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]




Yep, I've been commenting that we haven't been hearing Grover Norquist's name in all this as much as I think we should.
posted by rhizome at 5:13 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]




The Coronavirus Is Jump-Starting Union Organizing at Delta

Organizers started a union drive for flight attendants at Delta last November. Uncertainty about the pandemic is stoking a desire among workers for labor protections.
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


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