Healthcare – Is it time to just say no?

I just got the renewal notice for healthcare for the start-up company for which I am a part-time CFO.  This company does not offer “gold plated” healthcare to its employees.  In fact, it only offers a single plan (rather than giving employees the typical choice among 3 or 4 plans).

This year, premiums are going up 17% over last year!  In a year in which everyone is hurting, and the nation is suffering the worst downturn in recent memory, companies are getting slammed with cost increases like this.  Absorbing such a sharp increase in costs requires a similarly sharp increase in productivity, which is simply not happening right now.  

Is there any wonder that people are losing their jobs?

When the Stimulus package was initially being discussed, revising our country’s healthcare system to make it more efficient was on the table.  Then politics became involved, with those on the right howling about socialism single-payor systems and those on the left screaming about unfairness of wealth in fee-for-services systems.  So, the harder issues were ignored and the Stimulus only included money to shift some paper-based records to electronic records.  Whoopee.

Government has failed again.

This experience is making we wonder if the business community needs to simply revolt.  State the obvious.  Healthcare is not a business issue.  Healthcare is a social issue.  Perhaps business should stop paying for healthcare for employees and instead just pay a higher salary.  

I believe that employees would flock to those companies that pay the higher salaries.  They would still need healthcare, of course.  Once they see that the solution does not, and cannot come from the business community, the voting public would finally look to the sector of our society that must act of this problem is to be solved.   They would put pressure on their elected officials to finally come up with a healthcare system that covers our population and does so in a way that our society, collectively, can afford.

I only hope that we still have a society by the time they finally get around to doing so.


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