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September 18, 2003

Employer Health Coverage Plummets

Here 's one more reason why California's employer mandate or, better yet, the enactment of a single-payer health care system is so necessary.

[BTW WHY AREN"T PROGRESSIVES JUMPING UP AND DOWN WITH FIRST MAJOR STEP FORWARD TO EXPANDING HEALTH CARE COVERAGE IN A DECADE? The California bill has been getting amazingly little discussion in either the media or blog world.]

According to a release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of employees receiving health care from employers has plummeted in the last decade, from 63 percent coverage a decade ago down to just 45 percent today.
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And even when employees are receiving health coverage, their out-of-pocket expenses have soared. Since 1993, the average monthly contribution required of employees has risen 75%.

Update: But Amy Phillips in comments and on her site has argued that health care mandates have driven up the costs of health care, so how can a government mandate help the situation.

The key is that Amy is talking about mandates for specific benefits, not mandates to provide the health care in the first place.

One of the problems of our health care policy is that a lot of the discussion is about "rights" for those with health care already, and not enough about making sure that everyone receives the care in the first place.

This is what makes the California law so different. It's a mandate that ALL employers of a certain size provide health care in the first place.

And how will that decrease health insurance costs? Because the costs of uncompensated care at many hospitals often get tacked on as surcharges or increased fees for paying customers-- sometimes formally, sometimes informally. Essentially, employers providing health care subsidize the employees of their rival companies who don't provide it. So the new California law will actually be good for the firms that provide health insurance, one reason a majority of companies in California support the new law.

Posted by Nathan at September 18, 2003 09:22 AM