Yeah, I know, I've heard it all. It's the bad loans and massive defaults, unscrupulous idiots that rated high risk securities as AAA, houses of cards, blah blah blah.
Guess what's really dragging the economy down? Nope, but energy costs come in a close second. It's the cost of health care. Seriously.
Okay, well, so we're having open enrollment and I'm a bit touchy about it. We have had two raises in the past year. The first one in August finally caught us all up to the health care increase we saw in January 2008 ($10 a week). We just had another $10 raise, but since I wanted a plan with something lower than $10,000 deductible (yes, also a split $20/$50 copay for Primary Care/Specialist visit) it's going to cost me about $18 more per week. So I'm looking at an effective paycut of $8 a week over last year for (roughly, with some of the provisions it's actually a little less) the same coverage.
We're also changing providers (starting this Sunday, guess who doesn't have a card yet... everybody in the shop). So this also had me asking my health care providers about the insurance plans. See, for the company we're going with (which, strangely enough I own stock in) my providers don't accept some of their plans (I think we're good). And here's the kicker, most health care plans negotiate "fair and reasonable rates" with those who provide the services (you know, the doctors). The doctors haven't seen an increase in those fees for fifteen years (yeah, shocked, shocked I was to hear...). So all those "increased costs of medical care" you keep hearing about, yeah, it isn't going to the doctors. We also now have four tiers of drug coverage and copay. Four. Remember when it was one, and then they split it to two (generics and brand name)? Four.
In the future, when I rant and rave about this, you'll know why I root for a sweeping overhaul in how we pay for health care. Also, why I'm a big proponent of a government managed system. Failing that, I'll take something like Germany or Switzerland. Health care is sucking business dry. Just imaging if we could fix that cost how much that would help out economy and employment numbers (remember the last major union contract fights, and the on going ones, are all about health care costs and who is going to pay them). And there still would be costs, heck, right now I pay more for my portion of heath care than I do in FICA, so no, increasing my taxes by 200% wouldn't be that big a deal. In fact, I would be better off. And if that's all it cost, my employer could do a whole lot more with the money they saved.
I know people like to dis Canada for their health system and the wait times. Truth is that if it's an emergency, you get right in. And we have waits here in the US. Make an appointment with a new doctor. No, really, I'll wait. (insert elevator music here) Did you get an appointment earlier than three months from now? Didn't think so. I know people in real pain, who have specialists they've seen (including having surgery) who also have to wait over a month for an appointment.
So this year I'll be selling most of that stock. It's already worth half of what it was worth last year. I didn't pay for it (stock allowance when a mutual went public). But if I'm going to lobby heavily for government health care, it's going to be worthless.