Monday, October 20, 2014

Costs Shifted

For the first time ever I shopped health coverage today. Shopped might be too strong a word. Selected might be better. My employer, in an alleged cost-saving move, switched us into a consortium with other area school districts, so we're switching from Amerihealth to Blue Cross. We didn't have too many choices: really just an option of the new-age HMO vs. a preferred provider. But it does involve a choice, whether we want to maintain all the independence we did have or opt for something that costs less in exchange for having our options managed.

I decided to go with the lower cost. If I'm earnest about our nation lowering its health spending, I guess I should be part of the solution.

Ironically, the cost-saving move is costing us more money. Apparently we didn't read the fine print that we'd now be liable for paying for subscriptions. Irritating. Though it's nothing compared to the "deal" shoved down the throats of my colleagues in Philly. I did see all sorts of political figures line up behind that decision because, after all, who doesn't want to see teachers pay their fair share.

It seems like society enjoys making sure we're all paying our fare share.

So, 2014 comes to an end and we see costs shifting decisively to the employee. Cadillac tax, co-pay, premium share . . . it really doesn't matter what the jargon, more of the bill is become more explicitly laid on shoulders of the employee for health care. This might be a good thing for society. The cost of medical coverage has long been obscured, and in such an environment costs escalate. As an amateur economist, I can't help but appreciate the unveiling of a bill for what had seemed to be a free lunch. But I must ask: Now that we're shifting the cost of medical coverage (and retirement) to the employee, are we ready to discuss better pay?

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