Skip to main content

Shrinking private health care insurance coverage

As costs have gone way up for private health care insurance over the last decade, 12.6 million Americans have fallen off employer-based plans (the main form of private insurance, covering close to half the population).   The percentage of employers offering health insurance fell from 68% to 60% according to data in a new report from Kaiser.   

But the coverage provided by employer-based private insurance  has also shrunk -- even as premiums increased 113% over the last decade.  

Deductibles have sharply increased.   In 2011, 31% of employees have deductibles of $1,000 or over.  That is up from 10% in 2006.  Even 22% of workers at large firms now have deductibles of $1,000 or more, up from just 6% in 2006. 

About three-in-four covered workers pay a copayment (a fixed dollar payment) for a visit to a primary care physician or a specialist physician, in addition to any general annual deductible.  Most workers also face additional cost sharing for a hospital admission or an outpatient surgery episode. 

Indeed, there are many other forms of extra costs.  Over three-quarters of covered workers are in plans with three or more tiers of cost sharing.

“Without any real national discussion or debate, there’s a quiet revolution going on in what we call health insurance in this country,”  Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser told the Washington Post.  “Health insurance is becoming less and less comprehensive. . . . And we expect that trend to continue.”

What's more, the workers' share of the health insurance premiums have increased much more rapidly than the employers' share (131% versus 108% over the last ten years for family coverage).   The average worker's payment has increased from $1,787 (U.S.) annually to $4,129. 

Nearly 70 percent of Americans report being worried about having to pay more for health care or health insurance. Almost a third are “very worried.”


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…