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POLICY: Employees want health insurance, not pay rise

This week two studies confirmed that employment based health insurance, or the lack of it, is becoming a political issues. Harris Interactive’s poll of employees shows that American workers continue to view health insurance as a crucial employee benefit. In addition while they perceive other aspects of compensation such as pay to be getting slightly better, they think their health benefits are getting worse. And they’re right. California health insurance commissioner John Garamendi produced a report highlighting the problems with the high cost of health insurance and how it’s forcing employers and individuals out of the market. Garamendi criticized the now popular low cost/high deductible plans as a false solution, and many employees seem to agree.

We have a slowly dying employer-based insurance system, and no apparent ideas on how to replace it. This will have eventual political consequences.

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5 replies »

  1. Exactly right. The employee-based insurance programs are dying, or at least unable to cope with the rising costs. After numerous changes to our coverage over the years, my employer is moving to cdhp’s only and telling us that we’re going to lower costs by being more informed consumers and by using savings accounts. Hmm, I fail to see how adding yet more work (savings account maintenance) between me and my doctor is going to lower costs in the long run. When the change to cdhp only is made at my company, I’m getting my own high deductible coverage and putting my money where my employer’s mouth is. I go to work to work; I won’t allow my employer to tell me to call around for lower-priced healthcare, which is what they’ve started doing to employees. Again, when you say our employer-based health insurance is dying you’re exactly right.

  2. “Medical information is accessible and widespread…”
    Yet the vast majority of folks in CDHPs don’t feel as if they have adequate information to make good decisions.

  3. Matt- I agree that we have a slowly dying employer based health insurance system– the concept, as you know, dates back to WWII, when there were government imposed price and wage controls- so companies competed on benefits. Also, as you know, we have a different economy today. We also have a different healthcare system today- many more treatments- pharmaceuticals, implants, etc. No longer is there a paternalistic system where we do not tell patients about their diagnoses if it is serious. Medical information is accessible and widespread.
    The partial deregulation of health insurance, the removal of government price controls, the expansion of personal and consumer (patient) freedom in ways that I have commented on before on this site, are a reasonable alternative to the current system- please refer back to some of my previous posts (most recently on the “book review” item.

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