Andy Madtes’s Op-Ed editorial on Sept. 4, (“Unions at the front lines in fight against income inequality”), focuses on a serious problem.
However, the problems of working families in South Florida go beyond inequality: Not only are working families’ incomes low, but their expenses are high. Transportation, housing and health care in South Florida are all off the chart.
In particular, health care costs for working families are the highest in the country — 20 percent higher than the national average.
When families purchase their own coverage, they bear the full cost.
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However, even when the employer writes the premium check — while the employer’s revenues are reduced — working families still share the cost in the form of deductibles and co-pays, premium contributions, and trade-offs between wages and health insurance premiums.
At some point, our community needs to come to terms with our outrageous health care and health insurance costs. We talk about these costs as if they were like the weather, which no one can do anything about (in the short term, anyway).
In fact, however, our health care costs are largely determined by the way health care is delivered in South Florida, such as inflated by the provision of unnecessary services.
These are problems which can be corrected if the financial incentives change: for example, we could take the profit out of unnecessary services, and give consumers the information and incentive they need to find their way to lower costs and higher quality.
What it will take is for employers and unions to recognize the problem and act together to change the system. Nothing out of this world is required — if we did nothing more than reduce our costs to the national average, we would be that much better off.
Senior Consultant/Florida Practice Leader,
BenRx, Employee Benefits Consultants