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The U.S. experiment with employer-based private health insurance is a disaster. The U.S. spends more on per-capita annual medical costs ($9,200) than any other country. Yet infant mortality remains higher than in all other prosperous countries. The U.S. spends 17.9 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare, twice as much as any other wealthy nation. The U.S. continues to treat healthcare as a commodity distributed according to ability to pay rather than a fundamental human right provided according to need.

Employers decrease their healthcare bill by shifting costs onto workers. For unions, dealing with healthcare costs impedes progress on other issues. Despite the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) workers with health insurance live perilously close to financial disaster. Economists estimate that over 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by medical expenses and nearly 80 percent of these people are insured.

The private profit-driven healthcare system in the U.S. is wasteful and inefficient. Physicians increasingly recognize the current system needs to be replaced. A survey found two thirds of doctors support single payer.

The model for universal healthcare and single-payer health insurance is Canada. The Canadian system was passed province by province beginning with Saskatchewan. Early this year Vermont’s governor and legislative leadership betrayed their commitment to establish a single-payer system in that state. But it’s still likely that the first step to U.S. single payer will be state-by-state implementation.

A single-payer public health insurance program is reasonable, feasible and popular. What stands in our way are corporate and insurance company opposition, politicians too weak or too corrupted by insurance money to act, and the lack of an effective mass movement. We need to mobilize to claim the basic human right to healthcare for all.


1.    Calls on state legislatures and Congress to create single-payer health insurance and universal healthcare systems;

2.    Encourages the union to participate in coalitions for universal healthcare and single-payer health insurance including Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, Physicians for a National Healthcare Program (PNHP), and Healthcare NOW!;

3.    Directs locals to fight for the best possible employer-paid healthcare plan, including the following protections:

a.    No changes in plan design, provider groups, or exclusions or limitations unless mutually agreed;

b.    Oppose “Consumer-Driven Healthcare” scams such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other devices that are designed to financially penalize those who need healthcare;

c.    Paperwork for healthcare or insurance should be done during work time;

d.    Consider union-appointed navigator(s) to assist bargaining unit members with health insurance issues during working hours;

e.    Oppose and prevent cost shifting to workers;

f.     No denial or restriction of healthcare or health insurance based on employment, economic, immigration status, or disability (physical or mental);

g.    Refuse attempts by employers to require any member to pay any portion of the ACA excise tax in 2018;

h.    Adopt a healthcare benefit cost structure which is progressive in nature, based on income, doesn’t unfairly burden lower income workers, and insures that higher salaried employees and executives pay their fair share;

4.    Commits UE to continue our defense of Medicare and Medicaid;

5.    Opposes any cuts to Veterans’ Administration (VA) health benefits;

6.    Urges locals to contact the local VA to learn what medical benefits are available to our veteran members, and to lobby for restoration of fully funded medical benefits for veterans and their families and preventive testing and screening of all veterans potentially exposed to depleted uranium;

7.    Encourages locals to support the growing campaign for paid sick days in cities and states across the country;

8.    Opposes any effort by employers to replace full-time jobs with part time (under 30-hour) jobs in an effort to avoid the mandate under the ACA for employers to provide health insurance for full-time workers.