Yesterday it was announced that my company would implement a co-pay for all health plans. So now, depending on the plan, employees will get between $20 and $200 deducted directly from their paycheck. Up until now the company covered all premiums for all health care plans.
I'm not really all that upset about the whole thing. In fact, I kind of expected it. The move is to try and control the company's contribution toward the upward spiraling cost of healthcare in two different ways.
A) Keep the companies contribution to healthcare flat even though cost have risen
B) Keep the companies contribution to all employees equal whichever plan they select.
B. Is being implemented by charging a higher co-pay for the POS plan than the HMO. POS plans cost the employer more so in effect all the other employees on the HMO plan subsidize the cost of the more expensive employees. Considering I'm on the cheapest plan, I am single, and I am young I am the one doing the most subsidizing so this is a good deal for me overall.
However, what I think this really points out is that healthcare is becoming much too expensive and I think this is a shame.
I used to believe in universal health care but I no longer do. There are many reasons why healthcare is so expensive but I believe that the major culprit in the rising cost of healthcare is the fact that most patients see the treatment as free. You go to the doctor, you might pay a small co-pay, and you get treated. Further, that doctor is obligated to treat you with the utmost care no matter the cost (there are some restrictions but in reality very few procedures get denied if the doctor recommends it) and the effect it will have on other patients. There is little incentive for the patient to refuse healthcare as he is paying very little of the actual cost of providing that healthcare, thus cost spiral out of control.
Like anything else healthcare is based on supply and demand. Their are limited resources which to treat everyone. However we live in a society where most people have access to some form of healthcare and those who don't have the right to at least emergency care (which ends up costing taxpayers more money anyway as preventive care is usually less expensive).
In the end, everyone suffers from more expensive and a greatly degraded healthcare system. In a free market system you simply can't legislate something like this. In the end, the people who are most hurt by trying are the people who the system are trying to help. It is the same reason I don't think that excessively taxing the rich actually helps or why I don't think raising the minimum wage is a good idea.
Think about it, who is the person least affected by this raise in cost by my company? Me. Like I said, I'm on the least expensive plan and I require little health care anyway. Within the company I am probably in the top 20% of salaries so losing $20 a month is really no big deal to me. However it is a big deal to the guys barely earning enough to get by. This $20 (much more if they have a family or are on the more expensive plan) is going to come out of something and so they will have to scale back on other necessary goods. The problem is actually even worse than this. As all healtcare becomes more expensive people like myself will probably always still be able to afford it eventually pricing out the people at the bottom.