If you own a small-to-midsized manufacturing company, I have a couple suggestions you might not like. The first: Make healthcare a top priority. The second: This fall, vote for the candidate that offers the most comprehensive and generous healthcare plan – not for you, but for the workers on the factory floor. In the long run, taking these two suggestions to heart just might save your business.
I recently interviewed Dr. Jim McGlothlin and PhD. candidate Balmatee Bidassie, both of Purdue University, for a video project about advanced manufacturing which will be available here at www.allbusiness.com in a couple of months. We didn’t talk politics, but these two very bright and very well-informed individuals did put forth an argument about healthcare that makes a lot of sense.
It begins with the premise that the most important asset of a manufacturing company is its human capital. My conversations with executives at the Advanced Manufacturing Summit (also at Purdue) seemed to confirm this. Said one individual, “We’ve got thirty Bosnians. They’re terrific, and we just use a translator to talk to them,” Said another, “We’ll pretty much take anybody who’s willing to show up on time and work forty hours a week. We’ll train ‘em.” When not being able to speak English isn’t a disadvantage in the job market, and when just showing up is enough to get a job, it’s clear that, qualified workers are in short supply, in spite of all the plant closings. And it follows that if qualified workers are in short supply, keeping the qualified one you have should be a top priority. That’s point one.
Point two: According to Dr. McGlothlin, who’s talked to countless owners and managers about health-related issues, the strongest advantage you can have in competing for workers is to offer health coverage. If you’re not able to afford it, you’re at a huge disadvantage when you compete for workers. And the higher the skill level of the people you’re after, the greater your disadvantage.
A national healthcare program would take this issue off the table entirely. It would level the playing field in the competition for skilled workers, not to mention engineers.
So, what’s the best health plan? In my own personal opinion, it’s one that rewards efficiency in processing, and does not reward cherry picking of customers or denial of benefits to the needy.