Some Small Businesses Help Workers Buy Individual Coverage
The Associated Press examines health insurance costs from different perspectives -- that of a small businessman who provides workers with additional compensation to purchase their own coverage, rather than offering a company health plan, and that of a middle-class family facing mounting financial pressure which includes health premiums.
The Associated Press: Small Businesses Helping Workers Buy Health Plans
When Monty Hagler learned his employee insurance premiums could rise as much as 38 percent, the small business owner decided he couldn't afford coverage that complies with the health care overhaul. He considered a variety of plans from different carriers, but they were too expensive or bare-bones. "Unless we dramatically changed our plan and went with the most basic plan, I said, 'this is not sustainable,'" says Hagler, owner of RLF Communications, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based marketing company. So Hagler told his 12 staffers he would give them money starting in May to buy their own insurance coverage, likely to be better than what he could offer. He joined a growing number of small business owners who are forgoing coverage and paying staffers more to compensate for the lost benefits (Rosenberg, 9/24).
The Associated Press: Money Employers Give For Insurance Can Be Taxed
When employers give workers money to help pay for health insurance, the cash may be subject to taxes for both employer and employee. The IRS treats money given to workers as compensation, even if it’s intended to replace a benefit like insurance, says Steven Friedman, an attorney with Littler Mendelson, a New York-based firm that specializes in employment law (9/24).
The Associated Press: Middle-Class Squeeze: From Day Care To Health Care
Three years ago, Jason Prosser was stunned to discover the cost of child care for his newborn son — so much so that he and his wife postponed having a second child. The day care center they found near their Seattle home tops $10,000 a year. Next year, their son, now 3, can attend a Catholic preschool less than half as costly. He and his wife are among legions of middle-class families who are straining under the weight of accelerating costs for a range of essential services from day care to health care. And now a study by the Center for American Progress shows just how heavy the burden has grown: For a typical married couple with two children, the combined cost of child care, housing, health care and savings for college and retirement jumped 32 percent from 2000 to 2012 — and that's after adjusting for inflation (Rugaber, 9/25).
Meanwhile, Reuters focuses on how medical information is of more value than credit cards to hackers -
Reuters: Medical Records Worth More To Hackers Than Credit Card
Your medical information is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Last month, the FBI warned healthcare providers to guard against cyber attacks after one of the largest U.S. hospital operators, Community Health Systems Inc, said Chinese hackers had broken into its computer network and stolen the personal information of 4.5 million patients. Security experts say cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, which has many companies still reliant on aging computer systems that do not use the latest security features (Humer and Finkle, 9/24).