Workers Face Tough Insurance Choices Amid Rising Premiums

It's open-enrollment season, meaning large companies are offering workers a chance to change their health plans, but the choices are grim: The cost of premiums is rising even as benefits packages shrink, the Associated Press reports. "Workers and employers both are looking at higher health tabs for next year. And with proposed health care overhauls at least three years away, cynicism about the state of the nation's health care is running high. It's enough to give some insurance health fairs all the pizazz of a dour mandatory lecture" (Wyatt, 10/25).

Politicians all the way up to the White House have pledged that health reform won't cause people to lose their current, employer-based coverage if they like it, Time reports. "Yet the numbers behind that system show that it may be just as unsustainable as — if not more than — the U.S. health-care system as a whole, in which health care costs nationwide are on pace to exceed 20% of our gross domestic product by 2018" (Pickert, 10/26).

Of course, the situation of people who get ever more expensive insurance from their companies may look enviable to some. CBS News reports: Sixty percent of businesses in this country currently provide health benefits for their employees. But only half that number cover part-time workers." Whole Foods is among the rare companies that offers reasonably priced plans to part-timers (Miller, 10/25). 

The Kansas City Star examines the working uninsured:  "As a statistical group, they are massive and diverse but speak of a singular concern. Medical coverage often stays beyond their reach even with a regular paycheck, leaving them in the same vulnerable place as those with no work or those scratching out the most meager of livings. It is hardly because of a lousy work ethic. Of the approximately 46.3 million uninsured individuals in the United States, 27.8 million are adults with jobs. Full time. Part time. Multiple part time" (Adler, 10/24).

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