Yes, I know that health care is not the topic du jour. But innovation is. And the two are intimately related to one another.
In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to witness first-hand how the U.S. “system” of health care stifles our individual creativity and, ultimately, our collective ability to innovate.
A promising young journalist friend was almost unable to accept a once-in-a-lifetime, part-time writing assignment—even though his employer was willing to grant him a leave of absence. Why? Health insurance. A gifted handyman is unable to exit an untenable living relationship and geographically relocate to a new place that holds greater economic promise for him. Why? He’d lose the health insurance that comes with his significant other. A first-rate saleswoman languishes in a job that she hates. Why? She is afraid of losing the health insurance that her less-than-inspiring employer provides to her family.
Yes, health care reform has been passed, and some relief will begin to trickle through the system over the next few years. But it will take more than this before our individual and collective energies are no longer held hostage by the health care system.
This is something that reasonable people should be able to agree on, despite differences in their political leanings. If we are to unleash human potential – and we must do so as a nation, if we are to maintain a comfortable standard of living – then we simply can’t have an entire nation of creative people whose life choices are dictated by their need to maintain their current health care plan.
This calls into question the motivations of employer lobbying groups that resist any and all innovations that would help people achieve greater health care security. While it might be in employers’ individual interests to continue to use health care as a means of reducing employees’ ability to quit, it is not in our national interest.
It stifles creativity and innovation at a time in our nation’s history when creativing and innovation are exactly what we need.