A New Social Contract
The health insurance reform legislation moving through Congress is based on the idea that most working Americans will receive health insurance through their employers. This assumption is consistent with America’s tradition of using tax subsidies to encourage employers to provide certain forms of social insurance.
Yet as a story in The Wall Street Journal notes, more and more employers are abandoning retirement and health insurance benefits, regardless of the tax advantages. The result is a major restructuring of the the nation’s social contract — a restructuring that is altering radically the ability of working Americans to retire in dignity or afford medical care.
Writes the Journal about the state of employer-sponsored health insurance:
The percentage of employers offering health-care benefits is 60% this year, down from 63% in 2008 and 69% in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In a survey by Hewitt last winter, 19% of large employers said they planned to move away from directly sponsoring health-care benefits over the next five years.
In the meantime, workers’ share of health costs is headed up. For next year, 63% of employers that offer health coverage plan to increase employees’ share of the expense, according to a survey of 1,500 employers by another consulting firm, Mercer.