There is no ‘healthcare debate’. The arguments against reform don’t exist.
My part-time work is merely to get me out the house for a few hours each day. Money’s always useful, but it’s not the primary reason I do what I do.
Recently, the company I worked for was taken over by another. The new one offers its employees ‘health benefits’. I received details via the US mail.
Three health plans are offered: the most ‘Basic’ starts at $118 per pay period (fortnightly) for a single person with no dependents. Note, I did say it was the most basic. The second plan gives a bit more cover and rises to $189 p/p/period, and the third is $100 more than that.
For an employee with a dependent spouse the ‘Basic’ is $252 and the ‘Premium’ rises to $581. For a family of two adults with children – $371 for the ‘Basic’, $994 for the ‘Premium’.
These sums have to be paid every fortnight.
The average employee of this company earns $10 an hour. Working a forty hour week means a gross fortnightly pay packet containing $800, less taxes, Medicare, Social Security, and possibly union dues.
If he’s single and on the ‘Basic’ plan, he’ll pay around 17% of his earnings to the company’s medical insurance. Prescriptions will cost extra, and god help him if he ever needs hospitalization.
Being single, and probably young, he may just scrape by on the $500, or so, he’ll have left to live on for two weeks.
It’s hardly worth mentioning that the cost of these plans is prohibitively expensive for those employees with dependents. Unless, of course, they happen not to be one of the drivers earning ten dollars an hour, but on the management team and taking home substantially more.
And that’s what it’s all about. A three tier system where the poorest workers have the least cover, and the top brass bask in the sunbathed splendor of their gold-plated ‘Premier’ health plan – at close to $1,000 a fortnight.
In front of me at this moment I have the last salary slip I ever earned before leaving Britain and moving to America. In the ‘Deductions’ section is an entry for ‘National Insurance’. National Insurance is what all working Brits are obliged to pay the UK government for healthcare.
Payment of the National Insurance contribution grants free access to a doctor, a hospital, and medical treatment ranging from an ingrowing toenail to heart replacement. It covers X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and every other hospital procedure. It covers not just the worker paying the National Insurance, but also his wife and children. Prescriptions cost a ridiculously tiny, nominal, sum regardless of the type of pill.
For this gold-plated health service my last salary slip shows I was charged 7.5% of my gross salary. Compare that to the service our US employee would receive if he contracted for the ‘Basic’ plan at 17% of his salary – more than double what I paid.
Even the ‘Premium’ plan (which, if he had a family, would cost him in excess of 120% of his salary) does not provide total coverage free of ‘co-pays’ and other ‘deductibles’.
Is there anything to debate about healthcare reform in the United States?
Filed under: Robbing the poor to pay the rich