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Health Care Reform Full Time Employee Question & Answers

2015 August 3
by Sarah Fields

James asks…

My dads retirement health care switched carriers. It went from Kaiser to another company?

Kaiser was a full service insurance where they paid for everything. The new insurance has medcaid pay for 80% and they pick up the rest.

This does not seem right. Before the company was paying for insurance that paid 100% and now the company is having tax payers pay for 80%.

Sarah Fields answers:

This is the way of the future, especially without health care reform. Get used to it.

Companies started paying for health insurance in the 40’s when we were at war and there were wage controls (you couldn’t give pay raises). So instead, companies gave “free” health insurance; the company paid all premiums. Now health insurance premiums have increased so fast in the past decade that companies are shifting the cost onto employees and retirees–whoever doesn’t scream the loudest.

The average cost of family premiums in the US is $13,000/year. Until everyone understands the REAL cost of insurance, nothing will change and the insurance companies will continue to charge what they want.

I suspect the company has made Medicare (not Medicaid) the primary carrier. That’s the way it has always been, it’s just that your dad’s company, to provide a benefit, made their own insurance primary. Your dad is probably paying Medicare premiums anyway, but before he wasn’t getting any benefit from paying. Now he will.

We are retired on COBRA insurance. In Jan. The premiums went up 23%. They now take 35% of our income. In July our COBRA will end and we will be forced to buy individual policies at a cost of $1000-1300/month. Just be glad your dad had company-paid insurance for at least SOME time.

David asks…

What change is Barack Hussein Obama talking about?

It seems kinds scary, he wants all this change. I want to know if he will come into office and change things we dont want chaged. His name is scary enough, I dont want Socialism. I dont want free health care , It isnt as good. I want my country fixed, not changed.

Sarah Fields answers:

Probably positive changes that are along these lines:

Obama passed legislation with Republican Senator Jim Talent to give gas stations a tax credit for installing E85 ethanol refueling pumps. The tax credit covers 30 percent of the costs of switching one or more traditional petroleum pumps to E85, which is an 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline blend.

-After a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

-His first law was passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax dollars is spent.

-Obama created the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families in 2000 and successfully sponsored a measure to make the credit permanent in 2003. The law offered about $105 million in tax relief over three years.

-Obama joined forces with former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) to pass the toughest campaign finance law in Illinois history. The legislation banned the personal use of campaign money by Illinois legislators and banned gifts from lobbyists. Before the law was passed, one organization ranked Illinois worst among 50 states for its campaign finance regulations.

-As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan.

-He traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure deadly weapons around the world.

-Obama has been a leading advocate for protecting the right to vote, helping to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and leading the opposition against discriminatory barriers to voting.

– In the U.S. Senate, Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act to increase penalties for mortgage fraud and provide more protections for low-income homebuyers, well before the current subprime crisis began.

-Obama sponsored legislation to combat predatory payday loans, and he also was credited with lobbied the state to more closely regulate some of the most egregious predatory lending practices.

-Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007 to provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside the US; maintain their corporate headquarters in America; pay decent wages; prepare workers for retirement; provide health insurance; and support employees who serve in the military.

-Obama worked to pass a number of laws in Illinois and Washington to improve the health of women. His accomplishments include creating a task force on cervical cancer, providing greater access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, and helping improve prenatal and premature birth services.

-Obama has introduced and helped pass bipartisan legislation to limit the abuse of no-bid federal contracts.

-Obama and Senator Feingold (D-WI) took on both parties and proposed ethics legislation that was described as the “gold standard” for reform. It was because of their leadership that ending subsidized corporate jet travel, mandating disclosure of lobbyists’ bundling of contributions, and enacting strong new restrictions of lobbyist-sponsored trips became part of the final ethics bill that was signed into law.

Joseph asks…

Why is so much medicare taken from check?

My Aunt that I care for is 83 years old. Her monthly Social Security check is $296.50. She has $82.50 taken out each month for Medicare. Seems a bit steep to take out almost 30% for Medicare. Can anyone tell me if this is correct?

Sarah Fields answers:

The rule is that your aunt’s social security check cannot be reduced on a net basis from the prior year, but if her social security increase is greater than the increase in the medicare premium, then her medicare premium can be increased. The problem lately has been that medical inflation has exceeded the inflation in ordinary prices. It is likely that she is fixed in income for the rest of her life given the disparity between medical inflation and consumer inflation on which social security is based. I doubt she will see a net pay increase ever again, based upon the numbers and barring real health care reform.

While that looks like a lot, although I am just guestimating, I have recently reviewed employee health coverages. I suspect the average 82 year old should be paying a monthly premium well in excess of $500 per month. Her health care costs are being heavily subsidized by workers, taxpayers and future taxpayers. It sounds like an enormous amount, but it is well below her cost to the system unless she is in very good health. Medicare is an insurance policy just like any other, except that the beneficiaries do not always have to pay their full share of the premium.

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