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POLICY/HEALTH PLANS: I used to think the WSJ was good

I used to think that the WSJ had good health care reporting (if not the best). But it looks like its reporting may be heading the way of its editorial page. In an article called High Deductible Policies Offer Savings to Firm and Its Workers  there’s a standard bunch of ra-ra tripe about how high deductible plans are good for employers (Duh!) and their workers (at least the healthy ones). (A summary version for those of you with no access is here). It’s a pretty uneducated piece, and I explained a while back over at Spot-on why what’s good for General Motors (or actually Intel) is in this case irrelevant for America. (The gist is that their sicker employees can afford to pay more into the “pool”, whereas America’s sicker citizens can’t).

But it beggars belief when I read this sentence:

ITAGroup joins a growing number of small businesses that are adding high-deductible plans in a push toward “consumer driven” health care. Fifteen percent of companies with between 100 and 499 employees have adopted them, according to a 2006 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

So much so that I wrote this to the author:

You’ve clearly been hanging out on Wall Street far too long if you think that 450 employees constitutes a small business. It’s very clear from the data that the real problem with health insurance from employers is in the availability of employment-based insurance in sub-200 employee firms and even more so in sub 50 employee firms. (Click on the chart for the real data)
 
Insurance by company size
 
What benefit changes at the margin for a business that is at the least medium sized (and has completely different health insurance problems than genuine small businesses) has to do with “small business” health insurance escapes me. And how HSA/CDHP fix that problem is not something that the WSJ appears to want to talk about much in its editorial section. I’d hope that it would do better in the “news” section

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RandomThoughtsMatthew Holt Recent comment authors
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RandomThoughts
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Of course the Journal covers healthcare from this point of view (and who really cares how you define a small business?) because its written for the business and Wall Street crowd.
With HSA’s, consumers will give more money to Wall Street, because they have to invest it somewhere until they need it. While individual accounts might not amount to much, if everyone had them, that would put billions more in assets under management.
Are HSA’s a good thing? Depends on your perspective.

Matthew Holt
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Here’s an email exchange with Simona Covel who wrote the article about ITAGroup: Simona Re your article about ITAGroup yesterday. You’ve clearly been hanging out on Wall Street far too long if you think that 450 employees constitutes a small business. It’s very clear from the data that the real problem with health insurance from employers is in the availability of employment-based insurance in sub-200 employee firms and even more so in sub 50 employee firms (see enclosed chart). What benefit changes at the margin for a business that is at the least medium sized (and has completely different health… Read more »