Saturday, June 18, 2011

Further Misadventures in the "World's Greatest Healthcare System"

Submitted for your approval: Yet another excellent misadventure amidst the World’s Greatest Healthcare System. A friend of mine, who owns and operates a small business with several retail stores and dozens of employees, recently informed me that offering comprehensive health insurance to his staff has become cost prohibitive. He said the price tag has climbed to more than $900 per month—over $11,000 annually—per person. This scenario from a pool plan offering considerable discounts to participating businesses. If an employee of his desires health insurance through the business, he or she will now have to pony up fifty percent of the tab.

That’s the long and short of it: Employees earning as little as $8, $9, and $10 per hour in many instances—$400 a week, let’s say, before taxes—will have to dole out $5,500 for their health insurance. In other words, it would take more than a week’s salary, every month, to pay for coverage. And as for anything resembling a family plan…well…fuggedaboutit.

Strange, though, but according to a New York Daily News story last week—headlined “Health Care Nightmare”—that $5,500 price is something of a bargain, albeit a Faustian one. The paper reported on the exorbitant costs to individuals purchasing health insurance in the free market servicing New York City and its surrounding topography. It seems the cheapest HMO plan in town is the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York with a monthly premium of $1,486 per individual/$4,284 per family. The remaining options are more expensive—and some dramatically so. At best, a man or woman living in New York City could buy a health insurance policy for $18,000 per year. The newspaper story also noted that ten years ago approximately 100,000 city residents purchased their own insurance. Today, that number stands at 13,335, which is not exactly surprising and not especially encouraging. In fact, a case could be made that something’s rotten in the City of New York, and in a whole lot of other places, too, under the stranglehold of the World’s Greatest Healthcare System.

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