Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It's an Outrage.

I blame Global Warming and Dick Cheney: Cost of Employer-Provided Insurance Rises 6 Percent

“The cost of employer-provided health insurance rose 6.1 percent this year, the smallest jump since 1999, but still well above the increase in wages and consumer prices, according to an annual survey released today by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Predictably, there is a lot of angst at the Post about this:

“The slowdown is scant consolation for workers. The 6.1 percent rise in health insurance costs in 2007 is higher than growth in wages (3.7 percent) and inflation (2.6 percent), the Kaiser survey found.”

(…but since, as was explained in the article’s preceding paragraph, the employer pays most of that…)

The usual culprits are fingered:

“Part of the reason for the dramatic rise in costs is the cycle of higher profits for health insurance companies, said Gabel, a former research director for two health insurance industry trade associations.

"The period 1999 to 2007 has been one of unprecedented profitability," he said, noting that profit margins for major carriers have been 6 percent to 7 percent lately, compared to about 3 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. "The contribution to the increased cost would be that difference between the 3 and the 6 or the 7 percent."

(Some perspective: if I came to you and said: “Give me $100. Now, there is a chance I could lose some of that but if things go well, I can return $103 to you in a year but if I really screw over my clients, maybe I can get that up to $107.”; would you really think I’ve just offered you access to a money machine?)

One of my favorite one-frame cartoons from years ago had two men sitting at a bar, with one commenting: “So what if the cost-of-living goes up, it’s still worth it.” The increased sophistication and quality of today’s medicine – with the attendant training to ensure its availability - is a large part of what we are buying and, on the whole, I don’t feel cheated with that.

Side Note: “The number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record high 47 million in 2006, an uptick that Census officials attributed largely to continuing declines in employer-sponsored coverage.”

A record high? Does that mean in no time in our history did we ever have more than 47,000,000 people without health insurance? The U.S. population in 1920 was approximately 106,000,000…at least 60 million of them had health insurance back then?

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