HealthCommentary

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As CEO Profits Soar, Why Are More and More Of Their Employees Underinsured?

Posted on | December 7, 2017 | No Comments

Mike Magee

Employees across America are discovering that money is tight this Christmas, in large part because they are on the hook for rising out-of-pocket health care costs. But as the rising trend line above well-illustrates, their CEO’s pockets are overflowing with cash, and their health plans are Cadillac or better.

This is the season for gift-giving, family recipes, and quotes on the co-pays, deductibles, skinny coverage schemes, and employer Scrooginess that marks our uniquely American health care system.

216 million of us will be playing the game over the next few weeks. That’s how many Americans are covered by private, employer-sponsored or self-purchased plans. For the 119 million of you covered by Government plans, count your lucky stars – less double-talk and purposeful obfuscation. Less phones trees and knee-jerk claim rejections. Less hidden profiteering at your expense.

Based on the latest data, out-of-pocket costs and deductibles are now so inflated on the private side that one quarter of those insured on the employer or private rolls have earned the technical label “underinsured”.

One of the main champions of skinny plans backed by personal banker friendly Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Grace-Marie Turner, recently trumpeted in Forbes, “One company found that consumer-directed plans saved employers $208 per member per year and that employees in these plans spent less on healthcare, while increasing their preventative care visits.”

Tell that to the 13% of employees whose deductibles now exceed 5% of their household income. That’s up from just 2% in 2003 when Grace-Marie began to campaign for financial sector enriching HSAs in earnest. All this while the Tiny Tim’s of America struggle in the shadow of a 1% that now controls 38.6% of our country’s wealth.

But time has a way of correcting poor policy. Increasing underinsurance is not only raising alarm bells among policy elites, it is also fueling a public shift in opinion. In a June, 2017 poll, Americans by a margin of 60% to 39% believe the “federal government bears a responsibility to ensure health care for all Americans”. One third of those in favor now support a single payer system, and that number is trending upward from just 12% in 2014.

Skinny plans and HSAs just add insult to the “income disparity” injury. Proper health care for all Americans would deliver three holiday gifts: 1) Better health delivery, 2) an equality and social justice line in the sand, and 3) an overall positive impact on a culture that has spun off its wheels.

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