Workers Have 12 Jobs By Age 50, Lose Insurance Constantly


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Holly Adams / Flickr

Joshua Holland has a piece in the Nation that has at its core the absolute worst argument against single payer:

The central problem is that both Sanders and Conyers would compel almost six out of 10 people in the non-elderly population that get insurance through their employers (or their spouse’s employers) to move into a new program in a short period of time. This runs headlong into our well-established bias toward maintaining the status quo—we tend to fear change—and our tendency to loathe the idea of losing something that we already have, even if we might get something better in exchange, a concept known as “loss aversion.”

We have already covered this argument twice before, once in response to Krugman, and once in the form of an exhaustive explainer of why it is so wrong. But since it appears to be the only argument centrist pundits are turning to these days, it is worthwhile to rehash things once again.

Loss Aversion

Let’s suppose you are averse to losing your health insurance and you were given two options to chose from:

  1. A single payer system where you never lose your health insurance except one time during a transition.
  2. An employer-sponsored health insurance system where you lose your insurance every time you switch jobs, which people do on average 11.9 times between the ages of 18 and 50.

The answer here is very obvious. You choose number one. Why? Because in option one you lose insurance once while in option two you lose it many more times.

Holland’s argument is that people who are averse to losing insurance would oppose single payer in favor of a status quo where they are going to lose their insurance over and over again constantly throughout their life until they hit age 65 and switch to Medicare. This seems wrong to me because I think people who are averse to losing health insurance would prefer a system where that doesn’t happen over a system where it happens all the time.