In my never-ending hope for universal, single-payer health care in the U.S., I’ve come across another answer to how to make it happen. Many people have expressed concern over what would happen to all the people that now work in the business end of health care, e.g. insurance companies, plan administration, etc.

Well, for the insurance companies, many could just roll over into a new field created when Congress would pass a law that requires all employers to carry accidental death insurance on all their employees from the minute they are hired.

I’m not talking about the “dead peasant” life insurance variety that the Wal-Marts and others have taken out and retained on workers even after they left that employment.

If a worker were killed on the job, the accidental death benefit would go to their survivors.

PACE and IBEW member Kerry Roe was killed at Sappi in Cloquet last November and Minnesota OSHA just fined the company $57,000 for bad practices that may have led to his death. Generally what happens next is the company appeals the fine and it is cut in half. What a great system! It has little power of inspection or enforcement and the devastated family is still left with their grief and the loss of the bread winner. Is there any deterrent under the current system?

If employers had to pay insurance premiums based partly on pay-offs for accidental deaths, I’d bet they’d improve safety and working conditions. Employers now have workers show up even if injured so they don’t count as lost-time injuries and increase premiums.

It’d be like the cost to the unemployment insurance fund to the state being based on how many employees you lay off.

I must be missing something here. This sounds like it should work.

Larry Sillanpa edits the Labor World, the official publication of the Duluth Central Labor Body. E-mail him at

Comments are closed.