Friday, October 7, 2011

Is This Why Health Insurance Is So Hard To Get?

The College of Western Idaho looked into the possibility of offering its adjunct faculty a group health insurance plan--something that would be paid for by the employees.  It is better to have a group health insurance plan, even if you have to pay the costs yourself, then to pay individual health insurance rates.  It turns out that the College can't do this--and for a reason that is disappointing and despicable.

Another adjunct faculty asked around at Blue Cross about this, and apparently federal law requires employers to pay at least half the costs of employee health insurance--even for part-time employees (who might otherwise have no group health insurance plan available to them).  This effectively prohibits employers of low-wage, low-skill workers (like adjunct faculty) from offering any sort of employee health insurance plan.  I am attempting to find the section of federal law that does this, and whether this part of Obamacare or is a pre-existing condition.  (Think of federal law as a disease; it explains so many other aspects of this.)

There is a tendency in some circles to blame free markets for failing to care for the poor.  This is an example of government interference in free markets to the detriment of the poor.


  1. "There is a tendency in some circles to blame free markets[...]."

    I cut this sentence short because it doesn't change the meaning much. In this case, we haven't had a free market in a long time, if ever, so you can't really blame the free market.

  2. I have come to see our *entire* health care mess as a result of government interference. It started with the wage controls of the 1930s and 1940s--so employers were encouraged to provide health insurance as a benefit, and people no longer shopped for health insurance. (This alone irks me--we've come to *expect* our employers to "give" us health insurance--and this assumes that everyone is going to be corporate-employed!)

    When we can't choose our insurance, we're going to be ticked off when we get a plan that doesn't cover X or Y. So we demand, via law, that insurance pay for this. Thus, premiums go up.

    And *then*, the Federal Government passed Medicare and Medicaid, which, to keep costs "down", have this magical ability to say "Patient pays X", "Medicare pays Y", and X + Y is *quite a bit lower* than Z, the doctor's original price. What's a doctor to do? He raises prices. And he has to raise prices on *everyone* because otherwise the doctor will be accused of Medicare fraud.

    Meanwhile, because we all get insurance, we never look at a doctor's bill. "Oh, insurance will cover it" becomes our mantra. Thus, doctors charge what the insurance will cover--without the competition of individuals trying to weigh cost and quality.

    Naturally, this causes costs to balloon, and so insurance companies create these "networks"--and I am no longer permitted to choose my own doctor. Or rather, I *can* choose, but only if my insurance company approves. (Our *cars* have more rights than we do! Ads on the radio remind us we can take our cars to any shop we want to get them repaired!)

    In all this mess, government blames the Free Market--and naturally, the "solution" is to restrict the market even more.

    Yeah, I *wish* we had a free market in health care!