More Workers Going Without Health Benefits

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    A federal report says an additional 2.6 million adults joined the ranks of the uninsured in 2003.

    By Vicki Kemper
    Times Staff Writer

    July 1, 2004

    WASHINGTON — The economy started creating jobs again last year, but the number of working-age adults who went without health insurance for more than a year jumped sharply, the government reported Wednesday.

    An additional 2.6 million people ages 18 to 64 were uninsured for more than a year, raising the total to 24.5 million, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The report, released by the agency's National Center for Health Statistics, is the government's first statistical look at health insurance coverage during 2003, when the economy began reversing the job losses that started with the 2001 recession.

    The increase in the number of long-term uninsured, which Robin A. Cohen of the statistics center called "quite a significant jump," underscored the chronic nature of the problem and the decreasing likelihood that a job guaranteed access to health insurance, analysts said.

    "As we lose jobs in the manufacturing sector to jobs in the service economy and small businesses, we're losing the stability of big employers and replacing it with a much more fragile system," said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. "Our uninsured problem is becoming more of a permanent problem instead of a temporary, transitional problem."

    Kate Sullivan Hare, executive director of health policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said rising healthcare costs were making it more difficult for employers of all sizes to offer coverage to workers. As businesses that still offer health insurance pass on more of the costs to employees, greater numbers of workers are deciding that the coverage is not worth the cost, she said.

    Health insurance premiums that employed Americans pay for family coverage have increased by almost 50% over the last three years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and voters questioned in public opinion polls consistently cited rising healthcare costs and worries about losing health coverage among their top concerns.

    About 20 million U.S. families, or 1 in 7, had difficulty paying their medical bills last year, according to a report this week by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

    A higher number of Americans without health insurance for a year or more also means that more people are dying prematurely, "living with greater health risks, more serious illness and a greater burden on society to care for them," Rowland said.

    The CDC study determined that 53.1 million Americans of all ages, or 18.6% of the population, went without health coverage for some part of 2003, a slight increase from 2002. Of those, 28.5 million, or 10% of the population, had been uninsured for more than a year.

    The one bright spot in the report was a decline in the number of uninsured children. Thanks to the success of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, created by Congress in 1997, the percentage of children who were uninsured for some part of the year declined from 14.6% in 2002 to 13.7% in 2003.

    With private insurance increasingly unaffordable for employers and workers, the campaigns of President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, are seeking to address the issue.

    "This report is a stunning indictment of George Bush's failure to deal with the healthcare crisis that is occurring on his watch," Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.

    The Bush campaign did not respond to a request for comment.​

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-insure1jul01,1,344117.story
     
  2. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Right diagnoses, wrong prescription, IMO.

    I'm not opposed to tort reform, but to place blame on lawsuits for these massive increases in health care costs, without even mentioning the 25-35% of our health care dollars that go straight to the insurance industry (and provide no health care at all), is to miss the main event.
     
  3. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    hmm i just searched for austrian numbers the only thing i found was a number of 160.000 people...or 2,4 percent of the 15 years or older population...majority of the people don't know that they are not insured.. either because they just had a divorce,just came into the country,etc.
    local charity organizations are already warning that this could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe ...

    then i look at the US numbers :eek:
     
  4. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Question, are there any tax benefits for you to offer insurance to your employees?

    Tort reform is not the only answer. Getting the states to remove doctors much more quickly will also help.
     
  5. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    I agree. But who gets to decide what the damages should be? The insurance companies? The lawyers? The politicians? Or the judges? And how much is too much?

    I also think that no civil lawsuit should have the condition of non-disclosure of the settlement removed. You settle, it becomes public knowledge.

    Also to you answer to my original question. There should be some incentive for you to provide affordable insurance to your employees. There is another benefit to offering insurance to your employees over retention, and that is a healthy worker is a more productive worker.
     
  6. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Stelliform, while I have nothing too constructive to add, may I ask what business you are in, and of what size? I find it commendable that you make these efforts on the behalf of your employees, as the GM of a small business a few years ago, I wished to make the same steps, for the same reasons, but was overruled by ownership. I find it kind of funny that many small(er) businesses attempt coverage of their employees, at a greater proportional cost, than larger companies, who are more able to afford to...anyway, kudos to you.
    The thing here is the way so many laws are written, it seems like someone is always screwed. On one hand, the current system allows for those with legitimate cases to work towards fair compensation, while also allowing frivolous claims. On the other hand, an over-arching law, while prohibiting frivolous claims, may inadvertantly bar legitimate claims as pertaining to context, as laws are generally not flexible enough to deal w/ every situation.

    I would add, that perhaps part of the problem, is the tendency for some defenses, if realistically liable/guilty, will just throw money at the problem, file appeals, and make the case so time-consuming and expensive for the plaintiff, that they may back down. This, in turn, severely stresses the Court system...I do not mean to imply that this is always relevant, but it is an aspect.

    I am interested to know if insurance rates rise in relation to the number of claims filed, or merely with the judgements of liability? Anyone care to fill me in?
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    it is a business expense, that's one tangible. as mentioned, there is the intangible of retaining employees. i would be in favor of some sort of additional incentive, beyond expensing, maybe a tax break.

    that stelliform, as a company owner, gets his health insurance through his wife is imo a scathing indictment of how difficult it is for small business owners to compete on a benefits scale.

    if it's unclear, i'm a fan of small business.
     
  8. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Sorry that I did not make myself clearer. I meant some sort tax break as one possibility.
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    righto. totally agree.
     
  10. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    Another reason that I have heard is that with the rise of medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors would rather subject you to the whole battery of tests and procedures, which end up costing a lot of money, than rely on their judgement and run the risk of missing a condition, and a lawsuit.
     
  11. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    here are some fun facts from the Small Business Association:
    i was a small business owner for 5 years, now i'm self-employed. i don't see pro-small business as a dem/gop issue. w/ the gop in control of congress and the WH, how many pro-small business measures have you seen passed?

    i see both parties as geared towards larger businesses, if for no other reason than the lobbying money. it's a shame, imo, especially given the data above. i see entrepreneurialism as more american than big business, but i don't think everyone agrees with me.

    and since it is a healthcare thread...

    do you feel your business would be easier to run and compete if there was a national healthcare plan? what would you change in your business?
     
  12. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    No. I feel that my business would be easier to run if instead of having to offer health care plans to my employees, I would just write them a single check on payday, and it would be up to the employee to provide their own health care out of their own paycheck. (Same as the employee has to provide for their own auto insurance, auto payment, home mortgage, gasoline money, lunch money, etc.)

    I also feel that my business would be easier to run if I did not have to do tax withholding, and its up to the employee to declare and pay their tax due on or before April 15th.

    What is easier? Hiring an employee for $X dollars an hour, hiring an accountant to figure out how much taxes I have to withhold, hiring a HR person to find a health care plan, and write 3 checks, each for less than $X * number of hours worked, and another check to the government.

    Or.

    Cutting a single check for $X * number of hours worked on payday for the one employee.
     
  13. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    It's called "defensive medicine," but I wonder how many doctors actually practice it, especially in the current environment where the HMOs tell the doctors what tests they can perform and what medicines they can prescribe. In any case if you're saying that the incentives in medicine are all on the wrong side of ledger, then I'm hardly going to disagree with you. I'd support a whole package of reforms that would shift the incentives back where they belong, towards making and keeping people healthy. We seem to have lost track of those goals long ago.
     
  14. Neserk macrumors 6502a

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    That was me :D

    I now have school health insurance. It is a huge relief because if I end up with bronchitis or a sinus infection I don't have to pay an arm and a leg to see a doctor for an antibiotic.

    Other than that the health insurance is pretty worthless. Oh, if I die, I'm covered! ;)
     
  15. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

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    I'm sure a big chunk of the blame also goes to pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies. I don't buy the drug companies' claim that the reason for exorbitant prices is that it costs so much to develop new drugs, for two reasons.

    One is the prices are often that high only in this country. (Heck, I've even heard that pets can get the same drug much cheaper than you or I can.)

    The other is that, in a country where everyone else is getting laid off, seeing his salary erode, etc., drug and medical equipment manufacturers seem to be stubbornly immune to this phenomenon. If you worked at a hospital, like I did, you'd be appalled to see the sales reps driving BMWs and wearing $600 suits. The companies are doing quite well, thank you, and they sure don't seem to be cutting back on employee levels or on their salaries. Hospitals pay for that, and pass the costs on to you.

    The same applies to a lot of the companies that manufacture MRI machines and such. When was the last time you heard about them having mass layoffs?

    As a general comment, it's alarming to see the rate at which employees are being asked to pay for a large chunk of their health insurance, or losing it altogether (because so many full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time ones). It's ironic that conservatives complained about national health care, but it's looking like we'll have it anyway, simply by default. Because before you know it, employers won't be able to offer it at all, and then the government will have to take up the slack.
     
  16. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    that sounds like a 'yes' to me. i.e. it would make your business easier if you didn't have to provide healthcare to your employees.

    maybe i'm behind the times, but do you own a business w/ employees?

    if your employees are all 1099, then you get your wish.
     
  17. Voltron macrumors newbie

    Voltron

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    #17
    I don't know 20 bucks per employee per pay period sounds a tad bit expensive to me.
     
  18. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    yeah, there's a few rules the IRS uses to classify employees. i wasn't suggesting frohickey break any (if he even has a business, i think he's just playing devil's advocate), only that it's possible to have such employees.
     
  19. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    you and me both. i had many letter of the law vs. spirit of the law debates w/ my former business partners.
     
  20. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #20
    Keep in mind we now have many more conditions that look like other ailments (Lime Disease and others).
     
  21. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    You need to look at the math before saying something like this. Not a slam, but some numbers need to be looked at. Stelliform has a total of 4 employees. Even if he pays every week, this is only $80 a week or $4,160 a year.

    Even if the rate of $20 does not change with more employees (I doubt it, but maybe Stelliform has some knowledge here), a shop that has 150 employees would end up paying $78K a year. That sounds like a lot, but that function for a company of that size may require two people to maintain properly. In my area that $78K would maybe pay for the two employees.
     
  22. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    How about keeping lawyers out of medical offices and hospitals? I mean that literally. Lawyers are to be denied medical care, its not like we have a shortage of living lawyers. :eek:
     
  23. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    1) We have had the discussion already about why drug costs in the US are higher than in other countries with govt-mandated price ceilings. If you want to read more about it, go here.

    2) You need to get that Green-Eyed-Monster-Of-Envy-bite looked at. I think penicillin might work, or is that only for syphillis. :p

    3) There is demand for MRI machines. I think instead of wishing for layoffs at MRI machine manufacturers, you want to see a hiring spree. That way, they can make more MRI machines, enough to satisfy demand, and the price of MRI machines would go down.

    4) Lets see. Employers pay you for doing a good job. Why can't you pay for your own health care. Actually, you already are. I wish that I could have the option of 'employer-paid-health-insurance premiums' OR 'no-health-insurance-premiums-but-a-raise-instead'. I would like to have a raise instead.
     
  24. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    Wouldn't it be better to not have to worry about the $20 a check?

    Thats $20 per employee profit that your company could use to grow the business, hire more productive workers instead of paperpushers. Plus, your employees would be happier too, they get a larger check, and they can pay Uncle Sam his due on April 15, instead of giving him an interest-free loan.

    That $20 cost better be tax-free, since your business is now incurring a cost (federal withholding) that the government should be paying for. Why can't IRS tax collectors go door-to-door collecting bags of wheat instead. :p
     
  25. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #25
    Okay, you keep the lawyers out, and I'll keep out the insurance company bureaucrats. Deal?
     

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