All who can pay for care should do soMy husband and I have...

the Forum

September 28, 1994

All who can pay for care should do so

My husband and I have owned and operated a small business for 22 years and provided group health insurance for over 10 years. Currently, we pay 50 percent of the premium for individual coverage and 25 percent of dependent coverage, with the employee picking up the rest.

We have been told often by our insurance broker that we have to treat all employees equally, and that we should only pay 50 percent of what the premium would be for individual coverage for all employees. We tried to do that the year before last, at the beginning of our new contract year. As you can imagine, there was a great outcry from the employees who have dependent coverage. They all said they can't afford to pay 100 percent of the dependent coverage.

We took a survey of all the employees who only have individual coverage (in writing) to see how they felt about the employees with dependent coverage getting a larger benefit than they were getting. Not one employee objected to this, and many said that they felt this was right because each of their situations could change to where they might need dependent coverage in the future. The 25 percent of dependent coverage was a compromise.

We have 25 employees, including ourselves, of whom three are part-time and are not provided any health insurance. Out of the remaining 22, 11 have individual coverage, seven have family coverage, two have employee and spouse coverage, one has parent and child coverage, and one employee declined to have any coverage.

This benefit cost our company $29,804.50 in 1993. Of the seven employees with family coverage, four have full-time employed spouses whose companies do not provide health insurance, or their spouses prefer our coverage because we have Blue Cross and Blue Shield Preferred Provider coverage. Of the remaining three, two have unemployed spouses and one is divorced. The divorced employee's husband is supposed to provide coverage for their two children but doesn't.

As you can see from the above, it would be more economical for our company to only hire single, childless employees. Of course, this would be discriminatory and there is no guarantee that employees would remain unmarried and/or childless.

It is a burden to our company that the companies of our employee's working spouses do not provide health insurance. If the companies do provide it, their employees should be legally required to enroll in their plans.

Our one employee who declined coverage and is single and childless states that the doctors he sees give him reduced rates and often work out easy payment plans for him. He feels this is financially better for him than paying $1,009.32 a year in insurance premiums for individual coverage. He is unconcerned that the rest of us with insurance coverage are picking up the difference in reduced fees that his doctors are charging him, in the form of higher premiums.

My feelings on National Health legislation are that all employers should be required to provide health insurance. There should be only three classes: individual, non-working spouse and children. Employers should pay 50 percent of individual coverage only. Employees should pay 50 percent of their individual coverage and 100 percent of non-working spouse and children coverage. This is truly fair to everyone.

All part-time employees should also be covered. Since many part-time workers work for two or more employers, employers should pay 50 percent of their individual coverage pro-rated on the number of hours they worked in any 40-hour work week. Of course this would require that the insurance companies collect their insurance premiums after the month of coverage instead of before the month of coverage, as they do now.

The unemployed should be 100 percent covered by public funds, as many of them are now. It needs to be calculated what this 100 percent coverage would cost our nation, and a health tax needs to be implemented. This tax should not be assessed on employers, but should be part of the individual federal tax return. That way everyone would contribute.

I also think that we need a motto for this country that says, "Health security -- your fair share." I hope people take this two ways. One, that everyone is entitled to health security, and two, that everyone who can, should share in the cost of it.

Diane Turner

LTC Mt. Airy

Dirty politics

This has been one of the worst, most negative political campaign seasons I can recall in more than three decades' involvement in the process that elects our country's leaders.

Fortunately, all the candidates who practiced that low art in the recent primaries were defeated. But now, it seems, we have sunk to a new low.

The hiring of a private detective by anyone to spy on the candidate and his or her family against whom one is running is, to me, both morally reprehensible and politically unethical.

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