Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Truth About Employer Provided Healthcare Coverage

Your Old Uncle PC is going to tell you something that you have probably never heard before.

The Blog has never heard it before, anywhere, and he keeps pretty close tabs on political commentary.

So, if you have heard this before... good for you! You are ahead of The Blog! If you haven't heard it before... Well then, you heard it here first.

The Paul Ryan/ current Mitt Flop concept of taking the onus of medical insurance away from employers and replacing it with individual vouchers or tax credits so that each one of you fine American citizens can shop around for your own medical insurance is never going to happen. Because, in spite of their whining like little bitches about the ever increasing cost of health insurance, big employers don't actually want the responsibility of health insurance coverage taken away from them.

It's true!

Let's look at the events of the last few years, vis-à-vis health insurance reform.

We progressives have been championing the concept of "single payer" health insurance for a long time. (For the record, in spite of what the right wing propagandists will tell you, single payer is not even remotely "socialized medicine." There is socialized medicine in The US. We call it "The Veteran's Administration.") We hoped that when we elected President Obama that would be the reform route that he would pursue. Take the onus of paying for health insurance off of employers, (that sounds familiar. Where did I just hear that? Oh yeah! A couple of paragraphs up.) Put everybody into the pool, reducing costs and spreading out the risk over a wider number of people. Which is, in theory, how insurance works.

Understandably, the private, for profit insurance industry cried holy hell. But, for far less obvious reasons, all those businesses, big and small, that cry about the cost of insuring their employees, also jumped on that wagon.

So a deal was struck. Create a law that requires employers to provide their employees with health insurance or pay a fine via a tax penalty. Subsidize small businesses so that they can comply. And, subsidize the remaining uninsured, so that they, too, can buy insurance.

Once again, understandably, the for profit insurance industry loves this idea! Require employers to do business with them, AND deliver somewhere between 45 and 50 million new customers into their hands. Sure, they have to give a little. No more exclusions for pre-existing conditions and no more canceling policies because the insured have the nerve to get sick and expect coverage. But, all-in-all, it's a win/win for them.

But big business and pubic employers are also cool with this deal. (Well, except for a few vocal Catholics and Evangelicals who want to make it into a "WAR ON CHRISTIANITY!!!!")

With that background, lets return to my original prediction. Big business is going to realize, very soon, that Ryan/Romney plan is not what they want. Once Willard gets the GOP nomination, there are going to be some very intense, but quiet, meetings between big business and Mittens. They will be telling Romney, "Ixnay on the Iynray Anplay."

I hear you saying, "Okay Uncle Blog! What's your point? Get to it!"

The Blog has been privy to a number of contract negotiations over the last decade or so. Contract negotiations are always complicated matters. But, let me boil it down to the very basics.

They go something..... this.....

Union:  We haven't had a raise in three contract periods. We have given up perks and taken on more responsibilities. We are being paid less for more work. The time has come for a decent raise.

Management:  We would love to give you a raise. And we would be happy to do so. But, you know, the cost of health insurance keeps rising and it's killing us. So we can offer you a raise, but we will have to end health insurance coverage in order to do that. We can give you a raise, or we can continue to provide healthcare benefits. Your choice.

Are you getting the picture yet?


Okay. I'll continue...

The union negotiators go back to the members and lay it all out.

They say, "This is a bad deal. They are fucking with us. If you accept this deal, you will never see another raise as long as you live."

And the school teacher, the police officer, the factory worker and the camera man all say, " Are you kidding? I have three kids and a pre-existing condition! I can't give up my insurance coverage for a 6% raise. Do you know how much individual health insurance coverage costs?  Take the offer!"

Healthcare benefits are the biggest and best bargaining chip/ hostage (Think a puppy with a gun to it's head.) that management has ever had at it's disposal.

                                   The Blog is dating himself here. If you get it, then you are as old as I am!

No way are they going to give that up!

Health insurance, once a perk, is now the most effective union breaker ever.

And THAT is the truth.

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