WhiteCoat

Destitute Companies Get Health Insurance Pass From Feds

Why repeal the new health care law? Just get a waiver so you don’t have to comply.

When companies are required to pony up money for the new health care reform law that is going to give everyone in the country insurance, guess what happens. The companies balk.

Multiple companies have applied for and received waivers so they don’t have to change the “insurance” they provide to their employees. By threatening to raise health care premiums by 200 percent or threatening to drop coverage altogether, the companies got the Department of Health and Human Services to cave. Now the companies have our government’s blessing to continue offering “insurance” to their employees that is capped at a few thousand dollars per year instead of the $750,000 required in the health care law.

Guess who got the waivers.

Among others, there were these little known companies named McDonalds, Aetna and Cigna. The United Federation of Teachers’ Welfare fund was in there, too. According to the Sun-Times article, there are still 114 companies whose waiver requests haven’t been reviewed.

McDonalds is perfectly content to provide its workers with McNugget insurance where workers pay $727 per year for coverage that has limits of $2000 per year. One visit to the emergency department and their coverage is gone for the year. But who can blame McDonalds? The chain only had sales of $22.7 billion last year and its profits were a paltry $4.5 billion.

Poor Cigna’s profit increased 346% from 2008-2009. I don’t know how they stay in business.

Aetna’s net income totaled $562 million for the first quarter this year and last year’s revenue was only $8.62 billion.

We should just become stewards to those companies less fortunate than us and provide medical care oops, medical insurance to all these company employees … free of charge.

It’s just the right thing to do.

For a list of all the companies too destitute to comply with the new health insurance law, take a look at the Department of Health and Human Services web site.

24 Responses to “Destitute Companies Get Health Insurance Pass From Feds”

  1. throckmorton says:

    I like how it also excludes some of the unions that supported Obama.

  2. DaveyNC says:

    The article goes on to say that Mickey D’s employees can opt for a version that costs $1664 for $10,000 worth of coverage.

    Neither is perfect, WC, but you and many others have missed the point that McD’s doesn’t have to provide even this much coverage. In fact, I was surprised to learn that they offered any coverage at all for the front line people. There was a time when we took for granted that McJobs and others like them did not come with health benefits. When did the expectation become that we would all have company-provided coverage no matter who we work for?

  3. Nurse K says:

    No one is forcing anyone to work at McDonald’s or Cigna or wherever.

    What’s the point of offering $750,000 worth of coverage when the average McDonald’s worker wouldn’t be able to afford the premium? Remember, if you make $8/hr even full time, you’re not even really able to afford to live anywhere but mom’s basement or the projects. The people that need the insurance for children are going to qualify for welfare, the rest are single people who won’t be able/willing to pay the premium.

    Yawn.

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  6. It is misleading to talk about “what the employer pays” toward healthcare or anything else. Employers organize work and production, they don’t pay anything themselves (other than taxes on profits). Their customers and employees pay.

    ObamaCare increases health insurance premiums and requires the employer to pay that increase or pay a much smaller fine for dropping insurance coverage. But, the employer pays this cost of employment out of the production of the employee. So, the employer must offer a lower wage, or fire the employee, or go out of business. The employee will likely blame the employer, not ObamaCare.

    Health economists almost all agree that the “employer contribution” is a fiction. Employers merely deduct what they pay for health benefits from the overall compensation offered to employees. In other words, the employee pays for his own health benefits. The employer only writes the check for him.

    –> The Employee Pays the Higher Costs of ObamaCare

  7. Matt Hendrickson says:

    PPACA has taken the fIrst step towards a modern healthcare system by mandating basic standards for healthcare coverage for all Americans. The next step is adopting a single payer financing system that uses administrative efficiency, bulk purchasing, global budgeting and non-profit providers to achieve guaranteed care that our country can afford. Private insurance must go!

    • What is your example for where that has been done? By that, I mean the affordable healthcare that is still high quality, because of the great savings in efficiency, bulk purchasing, global budgeting, and non-profit providers?

      Als, what is global budgeting?

      • ThomasS says:

        Well, I suppose that it depends on your definition. But essentially everybody in Europe has health care whether they are the sort of worker who can “afford it” or not.

        That is a lot of different systems demonstrating a lot of different ways to get to that point. Perhaps there is a lesson here? One common theme is that there is sufficient government regulation or direct control of the minimum/basic health care plans to limit profits. I daresay that big insurance in the US lobbies hard against reform to avoid this fate.

        Another is causing the insurance pool size large enough to include a reasonable number of probably healthy people. This means that some classes of people end up paying more than they might otherwise have to; there is a cost sharing component to the “insurance”. But either you share costs between classes, you subsidies care with general tax money (the same as cost sharing, really) or you watch some classes show up at the ED with problems that a GP could and should handle.

      • Nurse K says:

        They have healthcare in Europe, but it’s general-practitioner care, and once you need something beyond a basic exam and basic treatment, you’re in the long line waiting for it, and if you die or suffer as a result, that’s the price you pay for ‘healthcare for all’.

        Currently, my friend in France’s dad has been waiting for a cardiac cath/angioplasty for 1 year (basic procedure here) after a failed stress test and angina with daily activities. Cardiac caths are reserved for those who are having heart attacks and unstable angina for the most part, and everyone else gets to wait a longass time.

        That’s just one example.

      • Annals of Government Medicine

        John Hinderaker at →Power Line has put up many posts under the category Annals of Government Medicine. These are stories of health care failures mostly within the National Health Service in Britian. Ironically and tragically, the NHS is presented by Team Obama as an example for all of us to follow in “reforming” the US healthcare system.

        ObamaCare and the Doctor

        We should be frightened about the reports of medical care in England, Spain, France, and Japan. But, we don’t have to wait for data from ObamaCare. The performance of Medicaid is known now, government healthcare for the poor provided by a caring government.

        Dr. Zane F. Pollard posted a frightening article describing Medicaid, and by extension ObamaCare.

        Medicaid pays for medical services to the poor, and in this case to poor children who face vision impairment or blindness. Regardless, Medicaid denies and delays their care.

        Consider that Medicare/Caid are intentionally underpaying for the medical care that they mandate, even for the most needy children.

        The government is proud of how they are negotiating lower prices for Care/Caid, but they are still going bankrupt with exploding costs.

        Some comment links talk about the military health system, that other government run system that serves the people who defend us. They get great care, right? (Wrong)

      • ThomasS says:

        Nurse K, would somebody in the US without health insurance have access to the procedure at all? Any health care system will make mistakes from time to time, and any healthcare system will have some budgetary limits.

        At the end of the day, either you are willing, as a society, to pay to provide some minimal level of healthcare to everyone, or you aren’t. No society is rich enough to give everybody absolutely world class care. But without some framework for universal coverage you don’t even have a system to fix when it does take too long for a cath.

        In England, Germany, Switzerland, and probably quite a few other places in Europe, you can apply for supplemental insurance, and such insurance does increase your access to care. So you actually have a choice, assuming that you can pay for the additional cover. In the US the choice often seems to be what your employer happens to provide or nothing.

      • Nurse K says:

        To Thomas…

        Yes, he would have access to the procedure as long as he paid for it in some way, including credit card, health care financing programs, payment plans, etc. His problem is not financial, it’s lack of people/procedure space to see him.

        PS No cath labs if you’re having an active MI in England or France either. You get tPA if anything.

      • ThomasS says:

        Has he contacted, say, German hospitals and inquired if they have a waiting list – in particular a waiting list for people who are prepared to pay privately?

        e.g. http://www.health-tourism.com/angioplasty-surgery/germany/

        Perhaps France, like Canada makes private clinics and hospitals more or less illegal, I don’t know for sure. But in England and many other part of Europe there is a second tier.

      • ThomasS says:

        Going back to Andrew’s question about quality of healthcare and cost, would you consider life expectancy to be a reasonable proxy for overall health care provided?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_compared#Cross-country_comparisons

        Lovely plot of flags below the table of numbers. I could be wrong, but a most of the flags at the top look suspiciously European to me.

      • To ThomasS at 6:11 am,

        The usual claim that US healthcare costs more and delivers less comes from statistics by the UN World Health Organization.

        The WHO health statistics are biased. The WHO itself ranks the US #1 in health care delivery that is important to patients. It issues another ranking of 37th because this quality of care costs more and is not delivered by government in a “fair” way! Critics of US health care always refer to the ranking at 37th. That is a political judgement by the WHO.

        The arguments offered against the quality of US health care are based on flawed infant mortality and life expectancy comparisons.

        Just two points, with more at the link:

        (1) The US follows the WHO definitions exactly for counting a live birth, “even one breath”. Other countries do not count premature births or babies with severe birth defects. The increased deaths of these children raise US numbers for infant mortality and decreases average US life expenctancy accordingly.

        (2) The US has far more death from auto accidents and violent crime, but higher survival for cancer and other chronic diseases. Overall mortality is not a good statistic for judging health care effectiveness or population health.

        USA Healthcare is First – Infant Mortality is Low

  8. This is sickening. Is there anything being done to counter this crap from happening?

  9. ERP says:

    They should have an option for catastrophic plans that cover little except emergencies – so an admission to the hospital for sepsis would be entirely covered (with no or little deductible). These plans ideally should exist as health insurers have a larger pool of clients – and could easily negotiate good deals with huge companies like McDonalds.
    But regardless, I don’t see how the hell McDonalds could get away with calling itself destitute.

    • Health Insurance Mandates in the States 2008 [edited excerpt]

      A health insurance “mandate” is a requirement that an insurance company or health plan cover common, and sometimes not so common health care providers, benefits, and patient populations. They include:

      • Providers such as chiropractors, podiatrists, social workers, and massage therapists;
      • Benefits such as mammograms, well-child care, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, acupuncture, and hair prostheses (wigs);
      • Populations such as adopted and non-custodial children.

      For almost every health care product or service, there is someone who wants insurance to cover it so that those who sell the products and services get more business and those who use the products and services don’t have to pay out of pocket for them.

      Mandates make health insurance more comprehensive. They also make it more expensive, because they require insurers to pay for care consumers previously funded out of their own pockets. We estimate that mandated benefits currently increase the cost of basic health coverage from between 20% to 50% depending on the state.

      Mandating benefits is like saying that if you can’t afford a Cadillac loaded with options, you have to walk. Having that Cadillac would be nice, as would having a health insurance policy that covers everything one might want. But, drivers with less money can find many other affordable car options; whereas few other options exist when the price of health insurance soars.

      • Nurse K says:

        Am I the only one that thinks mandating that every single person in the US have “unlimited” coverage by 2014 or whatever is going to cause us to dump into a cesspool worse than the Great Depression? Even my insurance has a one million dollar lifetime cap, and, hey, guess what?

        Better start to learn to garden and kill squirrels in the backyard for stew, ladies, because everything’s about to get way, way, way more expensive come 2014. Buy all the crap you want for the next decade or so now.

    • Joe says:

      So, under the plan you propose, if I were to go to the doctor’s office to get a funny spot on my arm looked at, I would pay full freight; but if I were to come in to have my arm amputated and a full course of chemo, that would be covered?

      Such a plan does not seem to encourage efficient patient behavior, especially when the patient is choosing between paying for a doctor visit or the week’s meals.

      A plan which makes regular preventive care visits free would be cheaper over the long run. An annual physical, biannual dental cleaning, routine vaccinations and the like should all be covered with no deductible and no hassle.

    • MV says:

      There is no doubt that McDonalds is cheap. I worked for a Fortune 1000 company that contracted with BCBS for health care. Full coverage (medical, dental, vision) was about $330 a month for a single person. This was the total plan cost of which I only paid a portion. If my nearly bankrupt company could afford this, McDonalds certainly can.

      I recently had to replace that coverage as a private individual. It is not possible at that price. It is not possible at any price as that level of coverage does not exist in the private inusrance marketplace where I live. I elected not to buy dental insurance as the coverage is at best break even. Which leaves the medical.

      The primary cost drivers that can be controlled include prescription coverage and deductibles. The presence or absence of preventive care was not the largest driver of cost. Prescription coverage, even bad coverage, is expensive. Lower deductibles (which are coupled with copays) are expensive. You can’t get catastrophic coverage with low deductibles. And if you could it wouldn’t save you any money. Or put another way, in any truly low cost plan, a hospital visit will be a catastrophic due to the deductibles and copays. At which point you might as well buy the plan that covers doctor visits….

  10. Matt says:

    “Poor Cigna’s profit increased 346% from 2008-2009. I don’t know how they stay in business.”

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Cigna+settles+class-action+suit+with+physicians+for+$400M+%2B-a0109025518

    Perhaps if you greedy physicians weren’t suing them for so much money, and threatening them with sympathetic juries, they’d be able to give more people health insurance at a better rate. When can we get some protection for health insurers like the physicians want for their liability carriers?

    It all depends on whose ox is being gored for you, doesn’t it WC?

    And the irony of a physician engaging in the “They already make lots of money” cry is rich! You hate it when health reformers start talking about physicians’ salaries.

    At least be consistent man.

  11. Matt says:

    This whole thing is a disaster, but it’s already underway so all you can do is shake your head and chuckle.

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