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I have ranted and raved about the rising costs of healthcare and how it is going to wipe out the middle class, again and again

Health care costs are already rising exponentially, the genomics era is about to make that even unimaginably worse and now we have tax and bankruptcy laws that will be the last straw.

Want proof it is getting really bad? We just hit an ignoble milestone. The average costs of family healthcare insurance per year now exceeds the annual income of a minimum wage worker.

As reported in the LA Times, a survery recently done found that the costs of healthcare insurance now exceed the income a person might expect from a minimum wage job. This is the first time in American history.

$10,880.00 is the cost of insuring a family of four. $10,712.00 is the income from minimum wage.

Of course, along with this rise in the cost of health insurance comes the decline in the number of companies that offer to cover health insurance costs. In 2000, according to the article, nearly 70% of all companies offered health insurance coverage to their employees. In 2005, that number has been reduced down to 60%. Most of that reduction has been due to small businesses.

As a small business owner I understand this. As we begin to grow and add employees, the search for health care insurance we can afford to offer our employees and still give them a competitive wage is getting very difficult. At a time when a small business needs every penny of revenue it brings in for payroll, infrastructure, taxes, etc. 25% of an average families income is a lot to pay for health insurance. It hurts financially and will hurt the company.

Of course small businesses are caught between a rock and a hard place. While they can not afford to cover health insurance costs and survive, the larger corporation can and can hire the good employees away. Either hurt  (perhaps fatally) your company financially or lose employees to large corporations and be hurt in labor (perhaps fatally).

So health care insurance costs keep rising, about to bring on a crisis, but the Republican government sees fit only to cry of Terri Shiavo and pass tax cuts for the rich and bankruptcy laws for the powerful.

They care nothing for the individual or for small businesses.

We need universal healthcare. It's good for the individual, for the small business and for the country.

(hat tip to Kim at Alas a blog for the link.)

Originally posted to wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:13 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great catch (none)
    An excellent subject for a diary - this needs to be recommended.

    "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison

    by chicagovigilante on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:10:13 PM PDT

  •  between healthcare and energy costs... (4.00)
    I'm not sure how a middle class family or small business is going to make it in 5 to 10 years...

    much less the poor!

    (consider this a tip jar ;) )

    "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

    by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:11:54 PM PDT

    •  5 to 10 months.... (none)
      I'm afraid--but with the increasing credit card payments and the cold winter we are going to have in the northeast....it's gonna hurt, and fast. Even the middle class.

      There was an Oprah show this week that talked about some heinous debt on some "average" looking families...I think there is more debt already out there than most people cop to.

      •  yup. That theme is also a Dr Phil favorite. (none)
        We are dorks.

        Seeing these sorts of families makes me feel a mix of hopelessness for families but also a smugness when my situation isnt as deeply in the hole as theirs!

        Reigning Welterweight Female Piefighter since 1998

        by ablington on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:29:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary (4.00)
    Makes me gnash my teeth even more when thinking about Bush waiving the Davis-Bacon Act in the SouthEast.

    With stats like these, it makes me crazy to hear conservatives complaining about lazy poor people who get all their medical needs taken care of at the emergency room.

    Grrrr.

  •  Small business owner (4.00)
    I'm one too, and it's absolutely nuts.  We are a small business but with some absolutely super people working for us.  We need to take care of our people, but health insurance is just crushing us.    It's not only the cost, which is insane, but it seems the entire health insurance system is near collapse into chaos, insurers going belly-up, leaving regional markets, changing PCP policies to exclude some of our employees preferred providers have caused us to ahve to change insurers 4 times in the past 10 years.  Every change means completely researching the options, as the chaos means every year the picture is different.
  •  What is the significance? (none)
    Has anyone recommended that a person try to support a family of four on a minimum wage?

    Would it be possible to support a family of four on a minimum wage if health care costs were, say, 70% of the total income? 20%?

    The solution for working poor is not just to lower health care costs. Even with free health care, it is impossible to support a family of four on anything close to the minimum wage.

    We need to provide education and job training so that no one is stuck working for the minimum wage for more than a few months, at the beginning of their career.

    According to a study quoted on NPR (All Things Considered, Sept. 14), health care costs rose 9% in 2004. That outpaces inflation and wage growth, but it's hardly exponential.

    --
    The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
    --Lila Garrett

    by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:20:25 PM PDT

    •  the signficance? (4.00)
      the significance is the milestone. We love milestones, they are, as the word signifies ways we can measure how we are doing.

      It's a very clear way of saying that health care insurance costs are rising at a pace we can't keep up with.

      Of course someone HAS recommended that a family of four be supported on minimum wage, pretty much every Republican who thinks it shouldn't be raised.

      9%, 3 times the growth rate of wage.

      9% after double digit growths for 10 years.

      double digit growth that was matched by 2-3% every year in wages

      9%, including an estimated double digit growth this year.

      9%... that has, along with the double digit growth, now made health care insurance twice as expensive in real terms than it was 6 years ago.. and will double it again in 5 years.

      I don't know... sounds exponential and significant to me.

      "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

      by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:30:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exponential growth (none)
        means that the bigger it gets, the faster it grows. But in 2004, the rate of growth actually slowed. It is still significant, but certainly not exponential.

        As for milestones, I understand that they're important. But this one is nonsensical to me. It's not meaningful in any way to the minimum wage earner.

        I am in favor of increasing the minimum wage, perhaps tying increases to inflation. But I think that the real answer to the problem of the working poor is free education. I'd rather see free college before free health care.

        A college educated person is more likely to be able to find a job where health care is provided, and to be able to contribute enough to society to make up for four years of tuition.

        Whereas a minimum wage worker who gets free medical benefits for the rest of their life, will still be a minimum wage worker.

        --
        The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
        --Lila Garrett

        by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:43:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have you got health insurance? (4.00)
          Provided by your employer?

          I don't.  I've been to college.  I have started my own company.  I could be bankrupt with one car accident or diagnosis of a lump.

          I have lots of friends with degrees who either don't have health insurance or could lose it in a second with a layoff.

          College education does not equal insurance.

          And you know, not everyone is college-bound.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

          •  I have health insurance, (none)
            for the first time in ten years. I've been freelance for most of my career. But I have yet to use it.

            Except for a post-car-accident visit to the osteopath for a very expensive massage, I haven't been to a doctor for 20 years.

            Luckily I'm healthy for now.

            I would love to live in a society where universal health coverage was a viable option. This ain't it.

            I just don't think the math works.

            --
            The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
            --Lila Garrett

            by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:54:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  forest for the trees... (none)
              you really seem to be missing the point.

              that health insurance costs are rising at such a rate (whatever term you want to give it) that outpaces wage growth to such an extend that  NO one will be able to afford it soon.

              "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

              by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 05:04:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not missing it. (none)
                I just don't see it the same way.

                Our health care crisis is a health crisis. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, are largely elective diseases.

                When Americans lose 40 pounds, exercise for 90 minutes a week, and stop consuming red meat and cigarettes, then I'll feel like footing the bill for their health care.

                --
                The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
                --Lila Garrett

                by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 05:54:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I sincerely hope (none)
                  that someday, when you or a family member becomes ill, that no one will tell you that you brought it on yourself.

                  I used to think much the same way that you do...until I got sick.

                  •  Not every illness is self inflicted. (none)
                    But if we took better care of ourselves, we as a society could afford the unavoidable, necessary care we all need at times.

                    --
                    The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
                    --Lila Garrett

                    by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 09:14:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  SO not true. (none)
                  heart disease, diabetes, cancer have huge genetic components...even if we all lost weight, stopped eating red meat and smoking (which most of us have btw), we'd still have these as large killers

                  AIDs, childhood diseases, accidents (still one of the larger causes of health needs), work-related illnesses, etc, etc, etc... all are part of the equation.

                  "hen I'll feel like footing the bill for their health care."

                  you all ready are. Your high health insurance costs, your high health costs, etc are are paying for it now.. already.. and then some.

                  I know you aren't, but that statement sounded so Republican/conservative/libertarian it threw me for a loop.

                  "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

                  by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 09:30:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  The math isn't working NOW. (4.00)
              One of the largest causes of bankruptcy is medical bills.

              It is a horrible problem for small business.

              And the cost of the uninsured drives up other costs.

              Other societies have made it work.  It is possible.

            •  clear this up... why doesn't the math work? (none)
              for universal health care coverage?

              It works across the Western world...

              and not working here.

              raising education levels alone will not help. THAT is where the math doesn't work

              "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

              by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 05:14:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It doesn't work in the rest of the west. (none)
                Show me the economies that are thriving, with universal health care.

                --
                The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
                --Lila Garrett

                by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 05:48:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  define 'thriving' (none)
                  you mean like our economy where there is one of the largest proportions of people in the Western world that go hungry and one of the largest dichotomies between rich and poor and the least educated? And where the more the economy seems to grow the more the rich get richer and the poor stay poor and more middle class become poor?

                  That kind of thriving?

                  Or do you mean the more stable economies of the West like Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and others that might not have these huge peaks of growth, but don't have the huge dips of recession either. The economy of Germany for example has grown per year in the last 20 years as much as the US economy... just not with the swings... and they all have universal health care?

                  I'll take the latter thriving over the former 'thriving' economy any day.

                  "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

                  by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 09:35:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I appreciate Ted K's annual (fruitless) efforts (3.50)
      to raise the minimum wage. Hes a good senator. At this point, though, it will need to be quadrupled just to make living expenses BEFORE health care is factored in.

      Reigning Welterweight Female Piefighter since 1998

      by ablington on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:32:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately that's not realistic. (none)
        I love TK. But the minimum wage is not going to go up while we have high unemployment, rampant outsourcing and schizophrenic immigration/employment policies.

        But we can provide job training and education so that minimum wage workers can move up the ladder.

        --
        The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
        --Lila Garrett

        by peacemonger on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:50:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  all well and good... (none)
          I am a HUGE education and training advocate.. from primary education to continuing education. I don't disagree with you there...

          but with health care insurance costs rising 3-4 times faster than wage growth every year (and getting faster), even helping those on minimum wage 'move up the ladder' isn't going to help a lot.

          average family insurance costs are now 25% of the average family of four's average income.

          In 2015 they will reach 50% or more.

          Moving up the ladder is great, I push for education and training politically, personally and heck... that is what my company DOES!

          but if we don't get insurance costs reigned in, that will help not ONE iota if not even a middle class family can afford health insurance.

          how do suppose to solve THAT issue?

          "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

          by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:58:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Bush-speak (none)
      We need to provide education and job training so that no one is stuck working for the minimum wage for more than a few months, at the beginning of their career.

      That's highly laughable in this economy.  Tell that to my friend with 2 PhDs who is now working at The Gap.  Tell that to an ex-coworker who was making almost a million dollars a year in 2001, got laid off and is now working at Target.  

      Bush uses this "people need more education and job training" excuse, but where are the jobs?  Do you realize that to get a job at most of the stores here on Melrose you have to have a college degree relating to fashion--for a min. wage job.  That's part of the reason you never see teenagers holding those types of jobs.  I grew up in the suburbs (West Covina) and teens had jobs at the malls.  Here in Los Angeles, I rarely see teens working.  That says to me that teens are competing with older adults for  min. wage jobs.  

    •  Education is the answer for smart individuals, (none)
      but it is not the answer for all.

      There is going to be a need for people to clean offices and homes.

      There is going to be a need for people to run cash registers to ensure merchandise is paid for.

      There is going to be a need for people to tidy up store merchandise after customers have made a real mess.

      There is going to be a need to do laundry for hospitals and upper class people.

      There is going to be a need for people to mow lawns and pull weeds.

      There is going to be a need for people to wash the dishes and to wait on tables.

      There is going to be a need for people to pickup the trash.

      There is going to be a need for people to take care of the young and the old.

  •  Tracy Chapman (4.00)
    Don't you know
    They're talkin' bout a revolution
    It sounds like a whisper
    Don't you know
    They're talkin' about a revolution
    It sounds like a whisper

    While they're standing in the welfare lines
    Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
    Wasting time in the unemployment lines
    Sitting around waiting for a promotion

    Poor people gonna rise up
    And get their share
    Poor people gonna rise up
    And take what's theirs

    Don't you know
    You better run, run, run...
    Oh I said you better
    Run, run, run...

    Finally the tables are starting to turn
    Talkin' bout a revolution

    •  she summed up the history of civilization with.. (4.00)
      that song.

      It is really difficult (though not impossible) to keep a society alive when you have huge portions of it poor, unable to cope, helpless, unhealthy, etc.

      The eventually rise up.

      This country already has a rising number of people in dire straights.

      We are just creating more.

      (while making the wealthy wealthier)

      eventually it breaks...

      "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

      by wclathe on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 04:36:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are so many dimensions to this problem. (4.00)
    I'm a labor and delivery nurse, and I can tell you that this is a problem that Bush is not going to be able to sweep under the rug.  I don't even know where to start.  Pre-existing conditions don't get caught in stopgap clinics, there is a critical shortage of nurses all over the country, which just as with the shortage of teachers is about to get a lot worse.  It's hard to point to one issue as more important than another with as much as is going to the dogs right now, but this is a biggie.  Thanks for writing about it and bringing it to peoples' attention.  Recommended.

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