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Squeezed: Why Rising Exposure to Health Care Costs Threatens the Health and Financial Well-Being of American Families

By The Commonwealth Fund

"As health care costs continue to rise, there has been steady erosion in the proportion of workers covered under employer-based plans, as well as in the adequacy of such coverage. Workers forced to turn to the individual insurance market often find coverage unaffordable or unavailable, while families with employer coverage face ever-rising deductibles and other cost-sharing burdens. This study uses the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2005, to examine the experience of adults ages 19 to 64 in the individual insurance market compared with adults with employer-based coverage. Compared with adults with employer coverage, adults with individual market insurance give their health plans lower ratings, pay more out-of pocket for premiums, face higher deductibles, and spend a greater percentage of income on premiums and health care expenses. The report also analyzes the implications of rising out-of-pocket spending among all privately insured Americans, particularly focusing on the effect of high deductibles." Read full report at The Commonwealth Fund site.

Even though employer-based plans can be great (if you have one), is this approach to insurance relevant anymore? Employer-based plans arose in the WWII era as a incentive to attract scarce workers. Does this still make sense for modern society employment trends? With the rise of small businesses, sole proprietorships and similar non-traditional approaches to work, should we stick with this approach?

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Join the dialogue here

Sep 14, 2006 4:34:23 PM
Sara says

I have never really understood a rationale that, when stripped clean, suggests that people who are not officially employed don't deserve affordable access to health care.

Sep 14, 2006 4:59:01 PM
Sweet Lou says

Pet peeve. Why do people talking about helping to solve the health care access crisis by talking about care for indigent or the homeless. Its nice to take care of the homelss, but there is a difference between indigent and uninsured. Simple arithmetic. There are 600,000 or more uninsured people in Oregon. Best estimates of the homeless are around 20,000 I think AT THE VERY MOST. I know that does not really have much to do with this post, but indirectly it might because if people get affordable access to health care through their employers, than anyone who does not have insurance is assumed (even if unconsciously) to be a slacker, thus it's their "fault" they are uninsured. We have inadvertently created two classes of health care consumers: employed vs unemployed, without acknowledging that the real distinction should be employed by a large company vs self-employed, artists, single parent, entrepreneur, looking for work and so on. Labeling everyone without insurance as "indigent" lets us look the other way.

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