Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Monday, December 15, 2008
  It's Time
Tonight I had a disturbing conversation with a guy who works his butt off at two jobs to support his small family. His full-time day-job is at one North Adams' mid-size employers.

Today he had note with time-card that basically said:
As of January 1, 2009, ***** will no longer be providing employer based health insurance.
Here's the kicker - the guy's wife is expecting a child in January, just a few weeks after the plan goes "Poof!"

I can only imagine the scramble that they are going to go through to get into a state sponsored plan before the baby comes. Hopefully her pre-natal care will not be interrupted by our asinine system of paying for medical care.

I guess the employer's choice came down to cutting insurance or laying people off. I can't blame them for their decision but, jeez, how screwed up is our supposed "free-market" society that this can even happen?

One of the absolute priorities of the Obama administration must, must, must be establishing a universal health care system that is NOT employer based. The system is collapsing as we speak. Some folks are just too wedded to the current insurance industry model to notice. Maybe they need to get that little slip of paper, like the guy above, with their paycheck.
With the ideological monkeys swinging all over television screeching "socialist" everytime someone brings up universal healthcare, I'm afraid it's going to be an uphill battle. Half of the country has been duped by the Friedman disciples and don't have any idea that the morons in Washington they support don't give a rodent's hindquarters about them. After all that has happened how we can still be having this conversation is beyond me. The health of the citizenry and the nation should be our prime concern, not the health of the market.
(jumps off of soapbox and gets back to work)
I thought companies with 6 or more employees had to offer health insurance to their employees?
Nope. They can pay a $300/year/employee fine instead.

The math isn't hard to figure out.
I'm in favor of universal health care, but I'd gladly make an exception for Randroids. Go get yourself patched up at Galt's Gulch and pay a "fair market value" for it.

Oh, right. The Randroids are superhuman and never get sick.

(who hates Randroids with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns)
On the positive side, Commonwealth Care may prove cheaper for the employee contribution aspect of the equation . . . I assume there was an employee contribution . . .

If I were him, I'd get on the phone today and start handling it so it's seamless and it also alerts the system to what his employer is doing.

I have no basis for this, but I have a feeling repeated violations might not work well for the company.
I think I've said this before, but in case I haven't:

How many businesses are never started every year, because people are afraid to leave their employer because they'll lose their insurance?

How many existing start-up companies never really get off the ground, because they can't attract the very workers they need, because they can't yet afford to pay health care?

How much innovation does our society lose, year after year after year after year, because people are afraid of losing employer-based health care? How many aging parents aren't cared for, because their loved ones can't take the time they need without losing health benefits? How many kids dont' have a parent to pick them up from school, help them with homework, because that parent needs to be at work, not simply for the money, but so they aren't bankrupted by illness?

How much productivity, how much creativity, how much potential, do we lose, all the time, every day, because of this system? People who have health insurance talk disparagingly about Canada. But for the record, not too long ago I talked to a former Florida republican who always opposed the idea of universal health care. Then he retired to Canada (that's right, he retired from Florida to Canada, go figure) only to discover that he needed heart bypass surgery. He did it all with the Candadian health system, and he now says, "Canada's not perfect, but it's better than the States. I was wrong to oppose universal health care all those years."

I'm sorry for your friend. Have him call Chip at Ecu-Health care. Chip's great.
Ali, excellent post.
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