Monday, September 10, 2012
Health care reform and employee benefits
Here in the precocious state of Massachusetts which adopted health care reform in 2006, we already have six years of change. Are we better off? On some levels yes. The rate of insured here is around 96% if I can recall the latest statistic with my tiny chemo brain. But the problem of medical debt still exists at comparable rates to before 2006. But the good news in that is that the rates did not increase as I believe they have in the rest of the country.
So while we have progress here, we still need more. It would also be nice for the rest of the country to experience the key benefit we have had for decades - the pre-existing condition clause. That is been on the books here for a couple of decades. I would be interested to see the rates of medical debt nationally after a few years with the pre-existing condition clause in effect.
On the other side of the coin is that employers nationally are asking employees to pick up more and more of the cost of benefits that were once free to employees. On this I am a bit torn. While it is nice that employers provide benefits I do not believe that they are required to offer them all free. Free is a great price but its all part of package deal if you think about it.
Your salary plus benefits is your compensation package and employers are feeling the pinch. They want to keep employees happy and offer benefits and salary increases and then the insurance companies raise their rates by 10% each year, how are they supposed to afford all that?
There is always a hidden price. Somewhere that 'free' is being paid for. And if you want your health insurance to cover EVERYTHING think again. My health insurance does not cover chemotherapy wigs, which I found out to my dismay. But a way of reducing costs for insurance companies is to cut coverage for rarely needed benefits. I would prefer to pay for a wig and not pay $20,000 for each chemo round. Its a carefully balanced system and we can't always get what we want. Sometimes we just get what we need.