How Medicare-for-all can transform the trucking industry

The issue of medical insurance has been one of the most pressing topics at a national level and looks set to be one of the most important factors in the 2020 presidential race. 

Virtually every Democratic candidate currently running has proposed a change to how medical insurance works in the United States, with each candidate making their case to the American public.

One of the most interesting ideas out there, though, is Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all policy. It’s been deemed a far-left idea by many of its opponents, but it would allow for structural change that is necessary for everyday Americans, especially truck drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trucking is considered a high-risk occupation, meaning that having health insurance at your disposal is a must. To make matters worse, research done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that drivers tend to be obese, have high blood pressure, diabetes, smoke cigarettes, and little physical activity. 

Because of these factors, truck drivers are also at risk of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early mortality. It’s also important to remember that a trucker's life expectancy is 16 years lower than the national average. 

Additionally, in yet another CDC study, they found that 38 percent of the truckers they had spoken to were uninsured, which shows how difficult it can be to get access to healthcare as a truck driver. 

Needless to say, having some sort of health care should be a priority for all drivers in the industry. So, what options do drivers currently have?

Well, they can get their own private insurance, which is likely to be the most expensive option. Paying for premiums to cover drivers and their families may well not be worth it for many, especially as the price of freight fluctuates and it routinely affects their pay. 

Another option for drivers is being on a company plan, which can offer group rates. Nevertheless, one of the biggest issues with a group plan is that it’s wholly dependent on the general health of the group, which means prices can vary drastically depending on a driver’s situation. 

Because company plans can only cover company drivers as well as some owner-operators who are leased on to a company, where does that leave owner-operators who are completely independent? 

Well, finding insurance as an independent driver is much more difficult. They can pay a small fee and join the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association, which would allow them to receive healthcare benefits. However, drivers are still liable for paying their premiums, co-pays, and deductibles which could cost them a pretty penny. 

Unless you’re a driver who is 65 years or older, you also can’t benefit from Medicare, which would provide you with the necessary coverage. In the end, there are still some consistent issues with finding coverage as a truck driver: affordability and access. 

With every aforementioned option, drivers will still be forced to pay co-pays, deductibles, and premiums in order to get any coverage. And even when you can afford it, as a truck driver, your access to your healthcare can become quite an issue. 

While you think you’re covered, it turns out that the doctor you went to was outside of your network. So, you’re not covered, and now you’re stuck with a bill that you may not be able to pay for. 

In another scenario, the driver might just completely forego getting help, which can still cause a problem down the road. 

All of these issues, specifically affordability and access, would be entirely mitigated by Medicare-for-all. Company drivers no longer need to depend on companies for insurance and owner-operators wouldn’t have to worry about the added stress of healthcare when operating independently. 

Additionally, unions would no longer have to negotiate with companies for healthcare—they’d be able to use their bargaining power to focus on other things such as higher wages and better working conditions. 

Medicare-for-all, specifically when looking at the trucking industry and its health issues historically, would allow all drivers and their families to have access to healthcare without having to pay ridiculous prices, as it allows for healthcare to be free at the point of service. 

The proposed policy would also allow people to keep their current doctors. Because it technically eliminates networks created by insurance companies, it means you’ll have full control over what doctors you would like to see and what hospitals you’d like to attend. 

Opponents of the proposal have stated that it would make the middle class of Americans pay more in taxes, which is not completely true in a sense. Medicare-for-all would completely eliminate private taxes such as co-pays, premiums, and deductibles, which means even with a slight increase in taxes, truck drivers would net save thousands of dollars every year.

As stated earlier, truck drivers need healthcare considering the current state of health in the industry, which is why a plan like Medicare-for-all can have a significant impact on the trucking industry as a whole. 

So what do you think? Do you think Medicare-for-all can help improve health in the trucking industry? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

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