I can’t let the Affordable Care Act and its impending effect on adjunct professors go unmentioned here.
Everyone is writing about it, so I’m not going to try and rehash the same old stuff. The Chronicle of Higher Education has covered it in detail and over at the Adjunct Project, an accounting professor named Ken Ryesky provided a comprehensive breakdown of the situation and also gave some tips on what adjuncts should do about it. The Wall Street Journal even picked it up.
Never fear–I’m here to offer my opinion on the whole thing, because that’s what we do here at Order of ED. Following are three opinions on the Affordable Care Act:
- First of all, employers who are whining about how Obamacare is “forcing them to cut adjuncts’ hours” are full of crap. No one is forcing them to cut adjuncts’ hours. They’re doing it on their own. They are making budgetary decisions and they are choosing to de-prioritize the people who make them successful. They are choosing to favor other budget items above their teachers. The Affordable Care Act attempts to make them realize how important their employees are. They have the option to listen to that recommendation or to put their fingers in their ears and pretend they can’t hear it. So they need to quit whining about how much it sucks to actually treat their people like human beings. It’s political posturing and it’s stupid.
- And on that note, it’s time to stop using the Affordable Care Act to tell political lies in order to justify a university’s (or company’s) selfish behavior. Again, the Affordable Care Act does not “force” businesses to devalue their people. It’s not an attack on workers. Think about how stupid that is for a second. The Affordable Care Act is designed to do the exact opposite–to protect workers from employers who would like to strip them of every right they possibly can. Blaming the government (and Democrats in particular) is an obvious attempt to smoke screen an employer’s strategy to disempower and “tempify” their workforce. As adjuncts know, temps are powerless.
- Okay, and finally, let’s shift gears entirely. Because of this “tempification” of the American workforce, we shouldn’t even be trying to preserve an archaic employer-tethered health insurance plan anyway. People change jobs now. That’s just the nature of the 21st century American economy. Employers hire and fire more frequently. Employees are less likely to remain loyal to a given company. If an opportunity arises, they’ll leave. Both employees and employers, for better or worse, are shifting around like a shortstop now. It’s just how we do it.
Because of this new fluid work economy, we need to adjust our policies to match. In the 20th century, when people stayed with one employer for 40 years, it made perfect sense to tether health insurance to those jobs. But that no longer works. It increases the likelihood of lapses in coverage for employees and it creates extra work for employers who are constantly rotating new workers in and out of the system. Plus, it’s a big headache for everyone involved.
The real debate about the Affordable Care Act should center around how we can use it to make individual insurance policies accessible and affordable, so everyone can just buy his or her own insurance and take it everywhere they go, employed or otherwise. Our 20th century insurance model is no longer relevant and we therefore need to stop looking at how we can “fix” it and instead start to completely re-imagine it.
by Hazel M.
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