We've all heard about the Koch Brothers and other corporations writing letters to their employees, coaxing them via various language that re-electing The President is going to cause great problems for their companies.
Today, that letter came to us, with a twist: Our new health insurance offerings for 2013.
It's a bit differently crafted, but in it's own sly way attempts to blur the lens for employees as to the cause of these changes - in their word - "ObamaCare".
More below the logo.......
My wife has worked for one of the restaurants now under the umbrella of American Blue Ribbon Holdings, which includes chains "O'Charley's", "Ninety-Nine", "Baker's Square", and "Village Inn" - full time for 17 years. Over that time she has built a customer base of steady, repeat customers, with service so consistently good she has a steady stream of returning customers that ask specifically for her. She has missed three scheduled days in 17 years. In other words, the hallmark of excellent service.
Over that time we have enjoyed good quality health insurance. Not perfect, but pretty good insurance.....sufficient to have paid $24K of a $26K bill for a hysterectomy. It has also paid a significant portion of dental benefits - 50% of several thousand in bills. 90% in network on health bills, and a 2K out of pocket maximum per person.
We pay about 5K annually for our portion of this benefit in premiums. Not cheap, but a good policy isn't cheap.
Enter "The Letter", delivered with this week's checks, three weeks before the election.
It explains how "we have looked to assess how we can take care of the most people possible, also knowing fully that we are no longer able to offer the best of everything to 33,000 employees. And overarching the entire health care landscape, our businesses face the uncertain future that ObamaCare will challenge our company with as we approach 2014."
Then the new policy is presented - what I would effectively call "junk insurance". Yes, it does cover checkup fees within limits, and assigns per day limits on hospital and services - up to a MAXIMUM of 50K PER YEAR. But the "per day" limits make it so only a certain amount of money can be paid out for hospitalization - which in no way makes sense when compared to the real world bills people get. More on this shortly.
The letter then goes on to explain that "we expect this policy will cover 98% of employees bills 100% during any given year. In a case where someone is ill and exceeds that limit, we will work closely to transition these people to the appropriate state and private agencies for continuing assistance."
Where have I seen this before.......hmmmmmmm........OHHHHHHH, a company called "Wal-Mart", who cheerfully refers their employees to public aid offices and local charities when their junk insurance (or no insurance at all) causes these employees to become economically destitute due to medical bills. That "public assistance office" that Paul Ryan wants to slash funding for.
We have "run the numbers" on this plan against two recent medical occurrences - my wife's recent surgery (26K), as well as a friend's abscessed ovary that has run up 70K in bills so far.
Using the guidelines in the policy, we would be covered AT BEST by half - leaving 15-45K in uncovered bills - from 6 months to a year of full income to satisfy the remaining bills. And that's in the BEST CASE scenario, when additional riders are purchased for specific illnesses, like heart attack, stroke, or bone breakage or dislocation - but only for a 20K LIFETIME MAXIMUM. Get hit by a car or have some other serious accident or injury and draw 100K in med bills - HELLOOOOOOO, BANKRUPTCY.
That remaining 2% not covered looks pretty damn risky, and looks bigger than just 2%.
The company is pitching this as some sort of real "godsend", offering this to anyone working 27.5 hours min per week and for six months, as opposed to 32 hours per week....telling people that they can now get insurance that they weren't eligible for before. That's a bit of an improvement for a 28 hour per week employee, but little do they know how weak this policy is.
Oh, it's offered by Allstate, if anyone is wondering.
Then there is another note:
"Your health plan has requested that the US Depaertment of Health and Human Services waive the requirement to provide coverage for certain key benefits of at least 1.25 million this year. Your health plan has stated that this requirement would result in an increase in premiums or a decrease in your access to benefits. HHS has waived this requirement until July 31, 2013."
Here's what I read into this: My wife's employer is biding their time in hopes Obamacare gets dismantled, so they can continue offering this "junk insurance" - assuming they intend to offer anything at all after Obamacare would potentially be dismantled.
This is the first delivery of economic vaseline that's coming down the pike if we don't get The President re-elected. The Koch brothers are looking to take away the bulwarks of what allows us a decent working-to-middle class living - a world where any illness leaves us with an impossible to pay set of bills, leading to poverty or bankruptcy - or both - while their shareholders keep the profits.
We are already at work informing employees as to what is really up with this insurance - to the extent we can without rocking the boat at work. THIS is the future of health insurance without Obamacare - junk insurance that will leave a myriad of economic destruction in it's wake, and increasing bankruptcy, bill collectors, and medically unmet needs to go along with it.
I have already seen the future - and it's not pretty.