Health Care Costs Weigh On Employers, Jobless Alike
News coverage reflects the ways in which employers, employees and unemployed people are confronting health care costs.
Employees are resisting state and local government efforts to shift more health costs to workers, The Wall Street Journal reports. "On Thursday, a Michigan judge heard arguments in two of three lawsuits filed by public-school unions and retirees who opposed a new law that for the first time required them to contribute toward their health-care benefits. Michigan is among several states struggling with record budget deficits that want employees to take on a greater share of the burden of ballooning health-benefits costs" (Neumann, 8/27).
The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story: Some employers are trying another tactic to confront changes to the health system: Bringing health care onsite. "Five minutes from the main headquarters of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, employees of the Florida law-enforcement agency can, at no cost to them, swiftly see a doctor in a new medical center equipped with gun lockers and space to doff boots and bullet-proof vests. Interest in such facilities may intensify as some 32 million uninsured Americans are poised to gain coverage in the next few years under the new health overhaul, exacerbating what many experts see as a growing U.S. physician shortage that can hinder access to good medical care and lengthen waits to see a doctor" (Wisenberg Brin, 8/26).
The (Nashville) Tennessean: Meanwhile, for many of the jobless, health costs are more than doubling as government subsidies for COBRA coverage -- which have not been renewed by Congress -- are exhausted. "Like thousands of others still out of work and with no job prospects in sight, [a Tennessee woman] finds herself caught in a gap created when a subsidy to help cover COBRA health insurance premiums for the country's unemployed ran out this summer. People who started on COBRA before May 31 can get the federal 65 percent subsidy for 15 months." But for many, the benefits have already run out (Johnson, 8/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.