Idaho part-time state employees faced a 908% increase in the employee contribution to state provided insurance benefits. Bill Roberts of the Idaho Statesman tells of a Meridian, Idaho EMS dispatcher - Zack - faced with a situation affecting more and more Idahoans. A 908% increase in his contribution to health care cost for part time state employees. Here's the question, opt in and pay more for health care insurance, or opt out to cover more basic needs like shelter, food, and transportation.
Zacks's story brings the true cost of health care insurance into meaningful terms for Idahoans and Americans where daily reports list insurers raising health care insurance rates 39% in California and employers dropping the benefit. In Zack's case he works 20~40 hours a week - suggesting he is in the new bracket "where [state] employees... working ... 20-27.9 hours ... pay 40% of the premium." Zack's premiums rose from $30 per month to $302.50 per month. The total premium is $756.25 per month - a startling $9,075/year for health care insurance. Zack pays 40% or $3,630 and the state pays 60% or $5,445 yearly. No wonder why Zack chooses rent over health care insurance. Director of Administration - Mike Gwartney and Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter believe "it's a heck of a deal still." (Rogers, June 28, 2009) Yet Otter or Gwartney never paid the proportional share Zack is facing when they were 23 years old! What is missing is more emphasis from the "2009 Idaho Fringe Benefit Survey" where comparisons to the survey published in 2002 found over 80% of employers offering health coverage compared to only 53% of employers offering health coverage in the 2009 Fringe Benefit Survey. (Idaho Department of Labor, January 2010) Idaho is not alone with rising health care insurance cost in the Northwest, ..."health insurance rates in Oregon have been rising by double digits, reflecting increases in medical spending. Experts expect that trend to continue in 2010, particularly for individual policies." (Martinis, C., February 16, 2010)
The issue is not how much employers or employees pay. The issue is that premiums are rising faster than employers, employees, and individuals can afford. More and more employers are cutting fringe benefits. Employees are opting out and individuals are opting out of health care plans because employers are either decreasing the benefit contribution, or eliminating health care insurance benefits.
Don't fault insurers - they are in business either for profit or non-profit. Either way insurers have to cover their claims plus operating expenses. Don't fault employers - they are in business for profit or non-profit. Don't fault individuals or employees who have to make financial choices between living or having health care insurance. To make the system work for all of us - place the fault where it belongs - on all of us. We all must be willing to contribute to the pool so everyone has affordable health care insurance, even it it means we might pay for someone who can't pay for their own coverage for what ever reason.
I now understand why the current legislation mandates large employers to provide coverage or pay $750/employee/year. I understand why the current legislation mandates individuals have health care coverage. The larger the insurable pool, the lower the cost to individuals. I don't like mandates, but as more and more people opt out and the cost of insurance increases, more and more employers will drop coverage. Care providers will not be able reliably re-coup cost when sick people do not have financial resources to "self-cover", yet the sick and injured will still show up for care. Health care providers loose because the revenue stream is delayed or reduced because people cannot pay their bills. Accounts receivable grow faster than reimbursement for services provided. Individuals and families can't afford the cost in relationship to their income.
Idaho Department of Labor. (2010, January). 2009 Idaho Fringe Benefit Survey (2010). Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://labor.idaho.gov/publications/Fringe_benefits_2009.pdf
Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Insurance Division. (2010, February 16). Oregon makes all health insurance rate filings public Rules adopted today also implement improvements to rate review process. Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://insurance.oregon.gov/news_releases/2010/021610-raterules.pdf
Roberts, Bill (06/28/2009). Otter's insurance plan draws fire. But charging part-timers more for health coverage than full-time workers is not unusual. IdahoStatesman.com. Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://www.idahostatesman.com/2009/06/28/816774/otters-insurance-plan-draws-fire.html