Thursday, November 25, 2010

Before Health Care Reform, Employers Shedding Employee Coverage, Leaving Government with the Tab.

The title says it all, and here’s the proof:

Wall Street Journal: The proportion of New Yorkers with health insurance provided by their employers has plummeted, according to a new study. At the same time, government-subsidized care is taking on a record load, slowing the state's economic recovery and likely leaving more families uncovered for at least months.

The rising cost of Medicaid-paid health care is a major driver of state government's rising deficits, which are forcing cuts in education and other services and prompting layoffs that further slow the economy.

Meanwhile, the private sector is sagging under the cost of providing health care, with 66 percent of companies saying they are struggling a great deal to maintain coverage for employees.

So is it uncertainty about a marginal rise in taxes for the wealthy keeping employers from hiring? By a huge number, NO!

One in 5 companies avoided hiring because of health care costs, according to the study's survey, and 1 in 4 companies either reduced or froze wages to pay for health care.

The report from the New York State Health Foundation said just 58 percent of New Yorkers are now covered by employer-sponsored health care. That's down from 69 percent in 2001 after decades of gains. "Employer-sponsored health insurance is an eroding pillar of our coverage system," said James R. Knickman, president and CEO of private foundation NYS Health. The group sought the study by the independent research National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.

Fewer employees are eligible for the coverage, more costs have been shifted to workers often faced with fewer choices of care, and fewer employees are choosing to buy into coverage that's available.

The study also found that in 2009 health insurance premiums increased 7.3 percent in New York state and that 66 percent of companies in the state stated they were struggling to afford health insurance to their workers.

Now there are 4.7 million receiving Medicaid-paid services … includes people who lost their employer-sponsored coverage and needed to continue coverage until they could land another job and qualify for benefits.

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