What Health Care Reform Means to the Middle Class (Hint: Jobs)

President Obama, at his Wednesday press conference, talked about the job-loss impact of rising health care costs on the middle class. But why the middle class? This recession has hit construction workers, young people, other demographics. It's because the middle class -- and by extension, the overall economy that relies on the middle class (in this case, the middle aged middle class) -- may not be able to recover in the job market without health care reform.

You do the math. You reach thirty, you pay more than when you're in your twenties. You reach forty, still more. You reach fifty and, if you don't get a heart attack from a preexisting condition, you may just get one from the exponential increase in your premiums.

Health care providers argue that as people age they require more health care for which they have to pay. That may very well be true, but in the world of unintended consequences, it also means those fifty-somethings may be paying in other ways -- include forgoing their ability to pay those higher premiums.

What is a potential employer that has to choose between a fifty-something who comes with higher costs for health care, despite being a far better qualified candidate, and a twenty or thirty something less experienced applicant who will cost them far less over time in premiums to do?

The president talked about the "donut hole" that exists for Medicare patients; the requirement to cover all the costs after a certain limit was reached until a far higher limit came into play. This has been a nightmare for many seniors on fixed incomes.

The middle aged may very well have a "donut hole" between their fifties and age sixty-five Medicare eligibility due to the lessening of employment opportunities that come from inflated premiums for their demographic.

But this is important for all demographics. When those in their fifties are passed over for jobs or are let go to save on health care premiums, a vital segment of our economy becomes depressed (and not just emotionally) as America requires a strong middle class that is not passed over for jobs.

Those who argue we should wait to implement reform are arguing to kill it. The will to put through health care reform legislation will not exist in the environment of the 2010 elections. If anyone tries to argue that, ask them their age, whether their health care is secure (i.e. Congress) and if they'd like to be pounding the pavement for jobs when human resources departments are looking at the costs associated with hiring them compared to someone younger.

The employment situation in this country will not improve until there is health care reform leading to increased numbers of the employed and quality of employee, as both are needed for our economy to recover.

More on this topic at THE ENVIRONMENTALIST