Should Business Be Responsible for Employee Health Care?

As U.S. firms struggle to compete in the global marketplace with escalating employee benefit costs, workers are increasingly liable for medical expenses. Many citizens lack health care insurance altogether. Should corporations be held accountable for employee health care coverage? After a historical review of U.S. employee health care benefits, the “shareholder” and “stakeholder” models of corporate responsibility are considered, as well as Catholic social teaching. Despite the well-established precedent for employer provided medical benefits, the current trends are not sustainable. While acknowledging differences, consensus is possible with these theories of corporate responsibility. Companies with sufficient competitive advantage may be able to provide these, and other, benefits to attract and retain employees. However, firms should not be compelled to provide medical benefits. In fact, the common good may be better served when health care insurance is obtained outside the workplace.