Unshackle insurance

Corporate America spends more on health care than it earns in profits.

Hadn’t seen that before.  But, for the reason above (and several more), it is striking how much business wants to continue to involve itself in the provision of health care insurance coverage.  It feels like more of a “the way we’ve always done it” sort of conclusion as opposed to a distrust of government, taxes will increase argument.  But health care expenditures go up, up, up and will continue to do so even with yesterday’s announcement.

Insurance coverage that follows people as they job hop/strike out on their own would boost American productivity.  Short-term plans are annoying.  COBRA too expensive.  And individual insurance purchasing not rewarded by employers.

2 thoughts on “Unshackle insurance

  1. I don’t agree that corporate America spends more on health care than it earns in profit as Matt Miller says but I certainly will give him the benefit of the doubt. I would however agree that corporate America is spending significantly more and more on health care in that profit margins are much less than they used to be and in some cases health care costs have forced companies to switch plans due to group premium expenditures. Given that statement I would then agree that the corporate world (US) is spending more on health care than it is earning.

    I think the main reason businesses want to stay in the insurance coverage game is fairly obvious. If a company can offer an appealing benefit package – health care, sick time, vacation time, retirement, stock options etc. than that benefit package acts as a means of enticing highly sought after employees who will hopefully further the company’s position in the business world. Other than reputation some companies don’t have much leverage besides a benefit package when competing for highly desirable employees. I suspect that most companies would love to drop the insurance benefits because of cost but then who would work for them? Employment-based insurance covers some three-fifths of the US population under age 65 and as of 2007 some 70 percent of the 253 million or so people in the US get at least some health benefits from employers. (Stats from 2007).

    The other issue is that group health plans via employers take everyone. So for those folks with chronic medical problems it is almost impossible to get denied insurance. If they ended up trying to get their own family plan or individual policy they would likely get told no. The real culprit with health insurance and cost is chronic medical issues which are money pits.

    As long as people continue to live longer we will likely continue to see health care expenditures rise like you mention. People are like old cars, the older they are the more stuff breaks and needs to be repaired. At some point most of us will junk the car. We don’t do that with people. We keep investing finite expensive resources into folks when the return in terms of quality of life is questionable. That is where the expense for health care really comes into play. But then we are speaking of rationing care. Do you spend $40 K on putting a pacemaker in a 95 year old man who has dementia and lives in a nursing home just because his family wants it done? Even I’m not going to try and tackle that question, even though as a provider I have an opinion.

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  2. A valid point on why employers want to continue to offer health insurance, I get what your saying. But I think it’s extreme to think that businesses won’t have employees anymore because they don’t offer health insurance. It’s a market. They would be forced to compete for employees, it might improve some workplaces. Then there is the whole supply of jobs/demand for jobs thing, too.

    Your second point brings us back to the force insurance companies to take all comers/mandates for all citizens. I think we could find something that works.

    The difficult decisions will remain difficult decisions to make. My hope, and this is a big hope, is that a better educated populace will be able to make those decisions for themselves. I’m afraid that won’t happen though unless there is more financial incentive to do so. And now we’ve stumbled upon another difficult conversation.

    I appreciate your thoughts. And this opinion is more of a personal desire not to have to depend upon an organization for affordable health insurance benefits.

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