Free will or flat broke?

Categories: Health Care

Today Business insider section of the Strib has an interesting story on the rising number of gainfully employed people without health insurance, including this revealing pull quote: "Thirty-nine percent of private-industry workers earning less than $15 an hour participated in employer health plans in 2005 according to federal labor statistics. That compares with 72 percent of everyone else in private industry."

Later in the piece, however, a pair of paragraphs says that "The number of insured Americans fell by 5 million from 2000 to 2005, according to a nationwide analysis covering 1996-2004 by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

"It's not that fewer employers are offering coverage, according to the analysis. Instead, two-thirds of the decline is employees choosing not to join their employers' plans through this period of high cost increases." (emphasis added)

This is like saying I am "choosing" not to buy a new Cadillac tomorrow. Employers may still be offering coverage, but clearly, fewer of them are offering affordable health insurance coverage.

And what about the remaining one-third of that roughly 5 million more uninsured, the approximately 1.67 million workers who had no "choice" in whether or not they were covered? According to the Federal Reserve analysis cited by the Strib, they have been bumped off the insurance rolls because of "tighter eligibility requirement by employers (longer waiting periods, more extensive health screening prior to receiving coverage, etc.)."


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