Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Chan: The U.S. Working Class and Health Insurance
The U.S. Working Class and Health Insurance
An important issue for the United States’ working class is health care reform. Health insurance is defined as insurance against loss through illness of the insured.1 In other words, health insurance is a type of benefit plan that employers give to their employees in case of an unknown injury or accident. The U.S. health care system revolves around private sectors like hospitals and clinics. Unlike the United States, countries like Canada, France, and Italy publicly fund national health insurance by the public and through grants.2 Health care reform has been a controversial topic in present times because of topics like the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which indicates that income, age, and other socioeconomic factors play a role in the considerable differences in the scope and variety of health services available to the working class individuals; the “baby boomer” generation, which was a time period of high infant rate and low morality rate; and certain trends.3 This paper will explain how access or lack of access, to health insurance impacts the lives of working class Americans, their decision making when it comes to employment, and employers’ decisions to exploit their workers.
The origins of health care benefit packages in the workplace can be traced back to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. One of the major reforms that Roosevelt implemented during his presidency was the New Deal. Within this government intervention, the New Deal implemented relief for the unemployed, recovery of the failing economy, and reforms of financial system so that a situation like the Great Depression would not happen again.4 The New Deal included programs such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Social Security Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act. The Social Security Act, created in 1935, provided benefits to retirees and the unemployed, as well as a lump-sum at death.5 The significance of this act gave accessibility to a majority of the working class to seek health care reform from who did not have a chance to get care. One major period of time in United States history was the baby boomer generation (1946-1964), where the infant rate increased and the morality rate declined.6 This assumes that presently, there are more living elderly individuals whom have access health care like Medicare. As time progress, the Social Security Act has been reformed and amended several times. In present times, the United States ensures health care to the majority of the population. It doesn’t ensure it if it’s all private and employer-sponsored….Although different plans may be present; people are covered to an extent. To an extreme, insurance companies will naturally weigh benefits over the risks. If you do not make the cusp, the application process will be altered to become more complex and difficult.
Health care insurance is so important to a majority of American workers that they make it a prominent factor in their decision-making when it comes to employment. The majority of people will seek job opportunities based upon premium amounts and benefit that the employer will give. From the interviews I concluded from Denise Gluck, a nursing director for emergency medical services, and Kevin Brayer, a sales and service specialist, they explain how health insurance coverage affects their work.7
Although health care varies from one job to another, it is a natural instinct that people will choose any situation where the benefits will outweigh the risks. From my interviews, I concluded that certain professions offer different health care options depending on work load. However in both Denise’s and Kevin’s situation, their industries offer the same premiums option to all their employees. In the interview I asked “Why did you chose this job, is it because of health insurance?” Kevin responded “As of now, I do not have to consider health insurance until I am 26. However it is because my job was a career choice, health insurance was an important factor in choosing employment at Bank of America in consideration of long term employment option.”8 This statement aids the fact that people will choose jobs based upon premiums allocated to them. Due to income, age, and other socioeconomic factors, the health care benefits offered differs from field to field. In answer to my question, “Do you get health insurance where you work? Denise replied, “Yes I do get health benefits. I receive health insurance where my employers pick up most of the bill. I pay a copayment of $30 dollars to visit any physician I want to under my PPO plan.” Meanwhile, Kevin stated, “Yes, health care is offered at work. However, I am covered under my dad due to Obama Care, so I decline my job’s health care plan.”9 Since health care is not equally distributed, one person can benefit greater than another. Depending on the type of industry, education level, age, and other factors, there are certain health care packages that one may be offered.
On the other side of the equation, in the eyes of the employer, a major concern is whether to hire full-time or per-diem (daily basis) workers. In their book The United States Health Care System Austin and Wetle, explain the function of health care with business administration. They state:
Once the employer has negotiated an agreement with the insurer, the employer can offer health care benefits to its employees. The employer is not limited to just one plan: it can negotiate with several insures and managed care companies to provide employees with option. Larger firms are more likely to offer a choice of plans to their employees. The employer decides what portion of the premium it will pay on behalf of its employees and what portion, if any, the employee will pay for the coverage.10
With this topic in mind, employers do offer different benefit plans to different types of workers which can be based upon marginal factors like monetary, health care, and other issues. For example, the Centereach Fire Department and the Wading River Fire Department both hire full time and per-diem workers. However, the main difference is that the Centereach Fire Department allocates their benefits differently toward certain members of their department. It can be said that full time workers get full benefits, while per-diem workers are semi covered. The main controversy in health care reform that reflects employer actions is exploitation. Presently, many industries exploit their employees by hiring multiple per-diem workers and making them work full time hours. By doing so, companies can pay little to no health benefits and obtain satisfactory work. However, under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, this action is strictly prohibited. This act states that if a company hires a per-diem worker that works full time hours, the employer has to subsidize their health benefits to follow the full time plan. If disregarded, government can and will take action.
Presently, there are several health plans that are allocated towards the working class. The government offers plans like Obama Care, Medicaid, Workers Compensation, as well as many others. Medicaid is a plan which helps low-income and the disabled. This plan covers a vast variety of individuals as low income such as pregnant women, children, parents, disabled, and many others. There are many benefits that are offered by this program, including prescription drugs. However, income level plays a role. If your income passes a specific income amount, you cannot apply for this program.11 On the other hand, Obama Care is a bill that aims to reform the United States health care system by providing affordable care to all, mainly helping working class and lower class because of monetary issues. This bill also proposes that all Americans will have to pay a tax that will help equate the budget.12 A main reform under Obama Care was that individuals under 26 years of age will be covered fully underneath their parents. This is significant because it provided young adults, college graduates with full and complete coverage. In the past, health care plans were expensive and difficult to find. Workers Compensation and Disability is a form of insurance which is paid by your employer that entitles you to full coverage when you obtain job related injuries and or illness.13 This health coverage impacts the working class because it states that employers have to pay health insurance for all working class individuals on the job with a few exceptions. From these three insurance plans, we can see how health insurance compensation has changed over time.
Despite these different programs, there is still a large uninsured population of individuals who do not qualify for them. In the graph “Health Insurance Coverage of the Nonelderly Population, 2003,” we can see that of a total of 252.7 million working class individuals, 82% are covered, while 18% or 45,586,000 individuals are yet to be covered.14 The significance of this is that not everyone is insured, health insurance can be tough to access. In comparison, the chart given by the Congressional Budget Office, shows how the United States is covered in the present year and has future estimates. CBO’s chart shows that out of a total of 272 million individuals, 58 million are uninsured.15 From comparing the chart to the graph, we can conclude that as time progresses the uninsured amount will increase. By knowing this factor, it is important for the majority of the population (working class, and lower classes) to apply as soon as possible.
Whether it is for job employment or not, health insurance does play a major role in working class, lower class, as well as many others’ decision making. Although applying for health care can be complicated at times, it is important to have. It protects each person against liabilities, such as sickness and injuries. After dealt with health care, people can apply their mindset towards greater goals; which can help him or her move up in society. Health care is crucial; everyone should have or obtain it.
1 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Last modified 2013. Accessed April 10, 2013. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/health insurance.
2 Anne Austin , and Victoria Wetle, The United States Health Care System, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012).
3 Knepper, H. (2012, Summer). Testing a model of county government influence on health care
safety-nets. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 35(1), 11-40.
4 Flores, Lori. "The Great Depression and The New Deal" Lecture, Class, Stony Brook, NY, March 4, 2013
5 Social Security Act , "Next New Deal." Last modified Febuary 16, 2011. Accessed April 10, 2013.
6 United States History, "Baby Boom Generation." Accessed April 9, 2013. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2061.html.
7 Denise Gluck, (nursing director for emergency medical services), interview by Ricky Chan, 1503 N Country Rd, Wading River, NY 11792"Health Insurance/ Coverage," April 08, 2013.
Kevin Brayer, (Sales and Service Specialist), interview by Ricky Chan, 1503 N Country Rd, Wading River, NY 11792 "Health Insurance/ Coverage," April 08, 2013.
8 Denise Gluck, (nursing director for emergency medical services), interview by Ricky Chan.
Kevin Brayer, (Sales and Service Specialist), interview by Ricky Chan.
9 Denise Gluck, (nursing director for emergency medical services), interview by Ricky Chan.
Kevin Brayer, (Sales and Service Specialist), interview by Ricky Chan.
10 Anne Austin, and Victoria Wetle, The United States Heath Care System, 33.
11 Chua, Kao-Ping . AMSA, "Overview of the U.S. Health Care System ." Last modified Febuary 10, 2006. Accessed April 9, 2013. http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Libraries/Committee_Docs/HealthCareSystemOverview.sflb.ashx.
12 Obama Care Facts, "ObamaCare Summary: A Summary of Obama's Health Care Reform." Accessed April 9, 2013. http://obamacarefacts.com/obamahealthcare-summary.php.
13 United Federation of Teachers, "What is Workers’ Compensation and who is eligible for Workers’ Comp benefits?." Accessed April 11, 2013. http://www.uft.org/faqs/what-workers-compensation-and-who-eligible-workers-comp-benefits.
14 Chua, Kao-Ping . AMSA, "Overview of the U.S. Health Care System ."
15 Congressional Budget Office, "CBO's February 2013 Estimate of the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Health Insurance Coverage." Accessed April 10, 2013. http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43900_ACAInsuranceCoverageEffects.pdf.