For most of my adult life, I’ve had to live without health insurance. Because I was a freelancer for many years, or because I did not have a fixed residence for a while, or because my skills and career interests often meant that the best jobs available to me were with small companies or non-profit organizations that did not offer benefits. I spent something like 6 years without health insurance.
I’m only going to address the first part of ABW’s resume: being a freelancer for many years. What’s more entrepreneurial than working for yourself, building a client base, managing your own business? Shouldn’t the Republicans rabidly favor any change that would promote that American entrepreneurial spirit?
Seriously, there are ways to deal with freelancers other than just casting them out into the cold and hoping they don’t come back in with frostbite. When I lived in Germany, I eventually aged out of eligibility for student health insurance, though I was still dissertating. By then I was also translating as a pretty major sideline (hence the slow dissertating). I worked with an agency or two, but I was still a freelancer. Through other expats, I heard about the Künstlersozialkasse. While this sounds like a serious disease to American ears, it was actually a pretty clever invention. The KSK was a special public health insurance agency that catered to freelance writers, artists, musicians, and other creative folks who might have otherwise been left uninsured.
I submitted a sample of my work translating ludicrous “lifestyle” articles from Porsche’s customer magazine (not the technical articles, which weren’t artsy enough) and I was good to go.
Germany’s economy is often criticized as being insufficiently nimble – as stifling entrepreneurship, thanks to higher taxes and more regulations than we have in America. But here’s one area where the U.S. systematically smothers creativity and innovation. And while I’d prefer to see a single-payer system where you didn’t have to prove that your translations were artsy enough, any public option that was affordable to entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and freelancers would still be pretty grand.
Republicans and Blue Dog Democracts, you’ve got a choice. You can support innovation. Or you can keep serving your masters in the insurance industry. You can’t do both.