Health Care Crisis

Been way too long again, but no one is saying anything of much value. What has been occurring more and more often is the withering away of your health insurance benefits. With every renewal period that passes, employers are faced with higher and higher premiums. In order to make sure that they continue to provide health insurance coverage to their employees, employers are faced with tough decisions. And the decisions they have to make amount to the “lesser of evils”.

In any business, for profit or not for profit, the bottom line is the same. “Do we have enough money to pay our expenses”. Next to payroll, health insurance is the next largest employee related expense, even more than an employers matching Social Security and Medicare taxes. It goes without saying that of those three expenses, health insurance is the only variable at their discretion to change (unless you would like your employer to fire you).

At renewal time, health insurance companies present the “new” premiums for the employees. Invariably, the rates almost always go up. Often times, insurers will offer a product that is slightly cheaper than the product up for renewal. Only problem is that the slightly cheaper product offers less coverage; higher deductibles, highercopays , reduced drug coverage, fewer covered services, etc. In essences it’s the same as when the coffee companies reduced the size of a can of coffee but kept the price the same. Who do they think they’re kidding?

Many employers have the same health insurance coverage as their employees. I was at a gathering where I met an entrepreneur. He and his partner have been in business for 15 years and have been doing quite well, as small businesses go. After 15 years with Anthem BC/BS, and no catastrophic illness in their group, they had an employee with a family member who battled and thankfully won, her fight with breast cancer. Unfortunately after paying over 3.5 million in premiums over the years (I’m being kind-the actual calculation is $800/month per employee X 30 employees X 15 years), they were given a renewal premium that the small company could not afford. The company began looking at other insurers for affordable health insurance coverage and were surprised to find that their “group” was uninsurable for some carriers. They were able to find coverage but with reduced benefits and higher deductibles and copays. The owners have the same coverage as their employees. The company is also considering having the employees pay a portion of their premium. That is something the company has never done in the past and never anticipated asking.

My own group has faced the same issue but without the catastrophic illness. For the first time in our existence, we’ll be asking employees to pay a portion of their premium. Costs to employers continue to increase, employees are asked to pay more and more out of pocket, hospitals and physicians are reimbursed less and less, but the insurance companies still find a way to make a profit.

The next time you buy a one “pound” can of coffee (it’s actually 13 oz), remember how upset you were when you found out you were paying the same money for less coffee, but the coffee companies were still making the same profit. It’s so ingrained in society that many of our food items have been reduced in the same way. We just accept it now. Only difference between healthcare and coffee is that you can choose not to drink coffee. You can’t choose not to get sick.

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it

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