“Pulling it Together”: Simple Arithmetic

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The subject title comes from one of the just released Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employers titled Employer Health Benefits 2009 Annual Survey

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information. The survey continued to document the prevalence of high-deductible health plans associated with a savings option and included new questions on health risk assessments. The 2009 survey included 3,188 randomly selected public and private firms with three or more employees (2,054 of which responded to the full survey and 1,134 of which responded to an additional question about offering coverage). Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and Health Research & Educational Trust designed and analyzed the survey.

There’s a whole host of links to the survey at the above link in mostly pdf format.

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust have conducted this annual survey since 1999. The archives of the Employer Health Benefits Survey include these surveys and a small business supplement of the 1998 survey conducted by the Foundation.

The subject title comes from this report, Simple Arithmetic of the survey written by Drew Altman, PH. D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In it he starts out with this “Two numbers jumped off the pages.”

The first number was the average cost of a family health insurance policy in 2009: $13,375. To put that number in context, if you are an employer, you can hire an employee at the minimum wage for about $15,000 per year. If you are a consumer, you can rent an average two-bedroom apartment nationwide for $11,136 per year (though it is quite a bit more here in Menlo Park, California where our Foundation is based). You can also buy a new Chevy Aveo for $12,000, and it gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

The other result that jumped off the page was the stark contrast between increases in health insurance premiums and overall inflation in the general economy. Premiums went up 5% and prices overall fell 0.7% (mainly driven by a big drop-off in energy prices).

He calls the rise in premiums moderate but adds this “Still, over the last ten years premiums have increased by 131%, while wages have grown 38% and inflation has grown 28%.”, he then takes it to the “simple math”.

They have another page on what reform would mean titled Matching Health Benefit Packages to Health Needs: Key Issues To Consider In Health Reform

Three reports and a video collectively examine the range of health care needs and costs that people face today against the backdrop of the scope of health coverage that may be available to them under health reform.

Children and Health Care Reform: Assuring Coverage That Meets Their Health Care Needs  and Individuals With Special Needs and Health Reform: Adequacy of Health Insurance Coverage examine the needs of children and adults, respectively, focusing on those with low-to-moderate incomes and multiple health challenges. They find that even under a benefit package more generous than most offered in the private insurance market, individuals and families can face significant gaps in coverage and large out-of-pocket costs, especially if they have serious health conditions.

Oral Histories: Report from a Dental Fair for Uninsured Adults, and a companion video of the same title, profile patients attending a dental fair in rural Virginia to highlight the impact on adults of lack of coverage for oral health services.

I’m not going to pretend I’m some sort of analyst on the subject, but there is a lot of common sense that can be brought into this long running debate as one AFL/CIO speaker said yesterday at their convention shortly after President Obama spoke: “We’ve been fighting for reform for so long that if health reform was a person, it would be eligible for Medicare!”

But looking at some of the above survey one sees that it may be off somewhat, not taking into consideration, probably because of the rapidity of the collapse of the economy, or maybe doing so but using conservative figures in guessing what may be the reality. Like the wage rise given, wages have been falling backwards, I’m seeing this as time goes on just in my industry construction, starting wages have dropped and the top wages were already stagnant for the past decade plus. This has been the trend in most industries and businesses.

There’s also the costs of lobbying and financing opposition by those opposed to any reform or an extremely milked down reform package as pointed out by this front page Daily Kos diary yesterday, but you could just search out the figures in reports, even though not highly reported, to follow the numbers, and I think these are even conservatively low, as there’s one whole cable, supposedly, news station that reports almost 24/7 just what the opposition to reform want reported, bringing in absolutely no new ideas nor reform packages. This was also seen in the past weekends so called “teaparty” in Washington DC, the interviews and posters had extremely little to nothing to do with Health Care Reform debate, though we already know some don’t have a clue as to what ‘debate’ even means, they just yell out “Lier” in the peoples house even! Where will the daily estimated costs,$700 thousand a day, to kill or marginalize the health care reform, come from, the same place the $700k is coming from, the premiums those with insurance are paying and if they can push regulation back or marginalize that, as it has been over the past decade, the rates will rise even faster then the Kaiser Family Foundation conservatively is measuring, much faster!! Gotta keep them executive compensation and company perks, all write offs, in the syle they’ve become accustomed to!! Premiums have already started rising, even as employee’s are getting laid off.

In closing, Rachel had another good discussion last night that I’ll include, it touches a number of issues:


    • jimstaro on September 16, 2009 at 14:59

    You’ll probably be seeing a number of reports, maybe, like this one:

    Health premiums rose nearly 5 times faster than income

    Texan families paid 91.6 percent more for insurance this decade as earnings rose 19.7 percent.


    And any of these figures are based on previous wage income!

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