Social Question

rojo's avatar

Why would a US company want to provide health, or for that matter, any kind of insurance?

Asked by rojo (15879 points ) September 30th, 2013

I mean, the vast majority are not in the insurance business, why would they want to be responsible for this? It is just an additional expense that requires hiring more people to implement. I cannot fathom why they would agree to do such a thing unless insurance was not available to the populace and it was viewed as a “perk” that only those who are important enough to warrant would receive.
If you assume that health this is something that we, as a society, both want and need, why would you expect your employer and not your government to provide it?

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55 Answers

Judi's avatar

We provide it because it is the right thing to do.
As a result, our most recent hire was more than 10 years ago. We take care of our employees and our employees take care of us.

johnpowell's avatar

Well, it ties employees to companies. When I quit APT I was offered a raise (50%) to stay and I declined. Then the Manager went on about how great my healthcare coverage was (it wasn’t).

I know people that want to quit but won’t due to healthcare. COBRA is pretty much a joke.

rojo's avatar

So, @johnpowell in your experience it was used more as a club to beat you over the head with than an incentive? Interesting.

rojo's avatar

@judi I can understand the need for insurance but why do you feel it is the right thing to do? As a company that is.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Healthy employees show up and produce.

Sick ones don’t.

jerv's avatar

Even taking the human element out and looking at the numbers, tax incentives can make it a financially sound move. And the people who generally care more about finances than humans tend to want private business to handle things while expecting government to keep out.

jerv's avatar

Conversely, considering healthcare to be a privilege flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How would it look to the rest of the world if we declared something everyone else considers a right to be only a privilege?

johnpowell's avatar

@rojo ::There was no possible way I was going to continue living in Bend, Oregon. Me staying was simply not a option. I was already packed.

It wasn’t a club, incentive to stay might be a better way to put it. I was 22 and single at the time and it wasn’t really a issue. Add on ten years and a few kids and it would have been a huge factor. I probably wouldn’t have left.

My point is that it decreases mobility.

CWOTUS's avatar

Why expect a government to provide it at all?

Food is more important on a day-to-day basis than health care (for most of us; I recognize that there are people in extremis who need constant care; this isn’t about those unfortunate people), yet most of us get food all by ourselves. We either grow our own and learn to cook it, buy raw foods from various markets and cook that, buy prepared foods for the added convenience and variety, or eat our meals at restaurants. Some really do prefer dumpster diving. (Presumably those people are also outliers on the curve, I recognize, but they also exist.) Government may be involved in setting weights and measures, and standardizing the rules of commerce, regulating what may and may not be sold, etc., but in general government does not “provide” food. And we need that every day.

Looking at this historically, “health insurance” actually was a perk offered to employees in the postwar boom period in the USA, when companies were hiring rapidly and petitioned the Congress to allow them to offer health coverage to key employees as a non-taxed benefit to help them attract people with non-salary benefits. Then unions picked up on that and added it to their own wage demands, until it became much more generalized.

What has especially added to the cost of health care in this country – aside from malpractice lawsuits and the coverage that doctors need to provide for themselves, both in premium costs for their insurance and in “the way they do business so the process can’t be attacked as ‘negligence’ in lawsuits” – is the tremendous over-regulation of the medical practice itself. This has been partly the result of intensive lobbying by the AMA to prevent nurses from doing a lot of work that doctors are now required to do, such as wound treatment, for one example.

Pharmacists would also be much better at prescribing many drugs than doctors. People could even – gasp! – take responsibility for their own health care and buy drugs (of known quality) from drugstores with the assistance of their highly-trained pharmacist, who can also give them very good guidance as to what drug combinations to avoid, how to medicate and the various efficiency of generic vs. name-brand drugs.

But no, for every single medical complaint we have – and we see it here in Fluther every day of the week – the response is “You must see your doctor.” Just because that’s the way it is doesn’t mean that that is the way it has to be.

Judi's avatar

@rojo, because we are dealing with human beings not just profit centers. These people have given us a big chunk of the best years of their lives. We have a responsibility to them.

glacial's avatar

I think it started as an incentive for new employees to enter the company, a perk. Perk becomes trend, trend becomes norm. In Canada, a lot of companies offer group insurance as an employee benefit – life insurance, and coverage of things not included under medicare, like eye care or dental, or travel insurance. In one company that I worked at for many years, the company kicked in a percentage of the premiums – they get a cheap rate for insuring a large group, then the company threw in some of its own money, resulting in great coverage for employees. They didn’t have to do that; it was just seen as an incentive to stay with the company, and a way of taking care of the employees.

gondwanalon's avatar

A company benefits from offering good health insurance by hiring and retaining high quality employees. Employees with health insurance are likely healthier, happier and more productive than those employees without health insurance. Both the company and the employees benefit.

I don’t expect my employer or the government to provide health insurance to me for free. Someone must pay for it. My employer takes money from my pay check and the government will do the same.

When a company offers health insurance to people who earn it, everyone involved gains. When a government offers health insurance, the government gains power and everyone loses.

Jeruba's avatar

Benefits such as insurance used to be part of the package for attracting and retaining employees. Employers used to try to be competitive in the market for employees—imagine that! All kinds of perks used to be offered when businesses were vying for qualified people. Companies also have a major stake in keeping their employees healthy and able to work.

After a while it began to be taken for granted as a benefit for most employees, and group insurance rates were far lower than individual plans, while costs of healthcare kept rising drastically.

Not only access to group insurance but employers’ partial contribution to premiums makes insurance a crucial benefit as well as a major (and often unrecognized) expense to employers. Being able to insure their whole family at group rates is something a lot of people depend on heavily.

It was insurance more than anything else that sent me back to full-time work in the corporate world when my children were young.

ETpro's avatar

As a small business owner, I can answer that you offer benefits in order to compete for good employees. That said, the pig-headed notion that single payer healthcare coverage, which all the rest of the developed nations have, is communism is what keeps the USA mired in employer sponsored healthcare coverage. That puts our businesses at a competitive disadvantage with every other developed nation on Earth. We should absolutely transition to a single payer system. Out current system is at the bottom of the developed nations in healthcare outcomes and is by far the most expensive per capita of any healthcare system on the planet.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@CWOTUS Interestingly, we are seeing a growth in the care individuals can receive from medical professionals other than doctors.

For example, I see a prescribing psychiatric nurse practitioner for all my psychiatric needs. I haven’t seen a psychiatric MD in years. My nurse tells me that even more changes are coming adding to the services she can offer.

Also, it is now common place to get some vaccinations at a pharmacy without ever seeing a doctor. My pharmacist added to what the nurse told me that more changes are coming that will allow them to offer more care to consumers.

And where are these ideas for change coming from? I believe the answer is the insurance companies. They recognize the savings in allowing nurses and pharmacists to assist with a broader range of issues.

Jeruba's avatar

@gondwanalon, have you had much experience using a company-provided insurance plan? I wonder if you’ve ever run into coverage limits that prevented you from getting the care you needed. I also wonder if you are or are related to an older worker who’s been targeted for layoff or “early retirement” and been faced with paying incredibly high COBRA rates to keep from going broke if something happens. Getting higher-risk individuals off the rolls has to be good for the bottom line, don’t you agree?

You said: When a company offers health insurance to people who earn it, everyone involved gains. When a government offers health insurance, the government gains power and everyone loses.

It’s no picnic being at the mercy of insurance companies under any conditions. They truly do have a life-and-death power over people, to the extent that they can set limits on what your doctors and care providers can do for you.

But when an employer is the middleman, your health record is also part of your personal file. Who’s to say that health conditions and insurance liabilities have no part in hiring and retention decisions? I’d rather take my chances with a system that has some sort of accountability to the public behind it, through the power of the vote, than have it all up to private for-profit businesses that can also decide whether or not my livelihood is in jeopardy.

drhat77's avatar

The problem with multi party payors is that private insurance compaines skim off all the workers, who are at low risk for drawing off benefits. The elderly (medicare) and disabled (medicaid) are the goverment’s responsibility, and they are all very costly to insure.
This is one of the problems that would be solved with a single payor.

ragingloli's avatar

Whatever a company does for its employees, it does so because it has to, not because it wants to. If they could, they would have you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no holidays or breaks, whithout pay. They would love to have slavery back.

syz's avatar

Some of us, as employers, care enough about our employees to try to do the right thing. (@ragingloli‘s blanket statement is incorrect.)

Judi's avatar

@ragingloli, that’s a pretty broad statement. My company is not like that.

ragingloli's avatar

That is because you are communists. True capitalists only care about profit.

Judi's avatar

Hey, I want to make money, just not at the expense of the people wh work for me. I want them to prosper too.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Jeruba
FYI: At age 62 I’m one of the few older employees where I work. Most of the employees are in their thirties, twenties and there are also a couple of teenagers.

You are right that many poor folks are under the mercy of insurance companies that pay the bills. But to think that the government would do a better job is very wishful thinking.

Also don’t forget that we all have a right to medical privacy. My employer (which is a healthcare organization) as with all employers must comply with very strict HIPPA law requirements. It is unlikely that an unauthorized person would go snooping through health charts as there are huge penalties in doing so.

For the last 18 years I’ve maintained health care insurance coverage from two different organizations. I’ve very glad that I did because within the last 3 years I’ve had 2 heart operations requiring many (and I mean many) E.D. visits and 19 days of hospitalization. The combined cost of all of that is close to $200K and of that I have had to pay less than $200. The cost that one insurance company doesn’t cover is paid for by the other insurance company.

One of the health insurance companies is offered my my current employer and I greatly appreciate that. My colleagues and I work very hard for our employer and are inclined to continue doing so in part because of the excellent health insurance offered to us.

Good health to you.

ETpro's avatar

@gondwanalon The US has the worst healthcare outcomes of any developed nation on Earth and pays the most per capita for healthcare. Why do you think what works better than here in 36 other nations, government sponsored single payer coverage, is so horrible; and what works so terribly here should be a model for all the nations that enjoy far better care for far less money?

Somebody has hornswaggled you, my friend. Now who might profit from doing that. Maybe the executives and owners of the for-profit insurance industry. There is a mother load of money in it for them to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt. Healthcare currently is 18% of the $15.7 trillion GDP of the US.

gondwanalon's avatar

@ETpro I’ve been hornswaggled by who? By brilliant cardiologists and cardiac surgeons? By health insurance companies that have paid more than 99% of my gargantuan healthcare bills? By other physicians, nurses, pharmacists and numerous other healthcare professionals who worked their butts off to provide the best possible healthcare to me?

Despite the USA’s poor showing in many international comparisons, it is doubtful that many Americans faced with life-threat illnesses would rather be treated elsewhere.

Judi's avatar

gondwanalon, I’m sure those with a life threatening illness and no coverage wish they lived somewhere else.

drhat77's avatar

@gondwanalon the hornswaggling comes in because most diseases we do not nip in the bud early enough. Hypertension, diabetes, etc. We end up paying more later because we did not spend up front to prevent long term ocnsequences.
The fact that they become life threatening allow insurance companies to almost run a protection rackett (spelling? is that right), because if you don’t pay and become ill, you are financially ruined. It also allows doctors to be the hero and charge top dollar for angioplasties instead of dancing for nickels by giving you proper diet instructions

jerv's avatar

@drhat77 @ETpro B-b-but…. ‘Murica!!! How can we possibly be wrong about anything?

gondwanalon's avatar

@drhat77 ETpro knows how healthy I am so I am so it is unlikely that your assumption is correct as to my hornswaggling, Americans in general are unhealthy by choice as they chose to live an unhealthy life style and not from being hornswaggled, bamboozled or hoodwinked by doctors or the healthcare system.

This will likely sound mean spirited to you but people must accept responsibility for their own health. Doctors can’t make people healthy. A healthcare system can’t make people healthy. Drugs and operations can’t correct years of personal abuse. Abuse such as lack of physical exercise, eating poorly, using recreational drugs (including alcohol) and tobacco, allowing themselves to become over fat, Not getting adequate sleep, etc.

@Judi Don’t worry. Everything is going to be hunky-dory for those without coverage now that we have Obamacare.

drhat77's avatar

@gondwanalon not you specifically but in general we wait until risk factors become fully manifest diseases because the pay is better

ETpro's avatar

@gondwanalon If everyone in the USA was exactly like you, then laws designed specifically for the benefit of people exactly like you would certainly be an excellent idea.

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon Look at the finances. Eating healthy for cheap is not easy; it’s generally more expensive. And try getting preventative care for $0.00, or even for a price that will fit into the budget of someone who can’t afford rent and utilities. Try getting enough sleep when you work two full-time jobs to try making ends meet.

gondwanalon's avatar

@jerv and @ETpro I ever said that achieving and maintaining good health was simple cheap or easy. It takes a lot to time and hard work.Sadly most people are not willing to put in the effort. is true that money is a factor.

I struggled after high school to work (at a few part time jobs) my own way through college and got every little help from my poor family. I worked at KFC as a cook for 4 years and for a while the owner let me live in the attic of his store. It took me 6 years to to earn an BA.degree. During my college years I had no insurance of any kind and I ate poorly and got little sleep and exercise. I also took advantage of Medicade and food stamps for a while. But I continued to work hard to advance my earning abilities so that I’m now in the upper middle class.

Yes life is tough and we are all different but now that Uncle Sugar is here to take care of us everything will be just fine.

Good health!

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon If you haven’t noticed that this isn’t the 1970s any more then I can understand how you’d think that way. Try doing what you did now and you’d be flipping burgers to pay half your rent, stocking shelves to pay the other half, and not have enough left over for food, let alone tuition.

The world has changed; change with it or be left behind. Forget what worked decades ago because that isn’t how things work now. And I think that’s a huge divide between Conservatives and others; others know that 2013 isn’t 1963.

gondwanalon's avatar

@jerv Oh I get it now. It is just too hard to try to better yourself nowadays so it is best to just give up and roll over and let the government manage your life.

gondwanalon's avatar

HA! My first job was in 1968 and paid $1.00 an hour before taxes at a cafeteria washing pans and that was much less than the minimum wage. They could pay me less because I was under 18 years old at the time.

I worked very hard for my employer at Kentucky Fried Chicken when I was in college (1970 – 1976 and got paid far more than the minimum wage because I was worth it to my boss and the owner.

Judi's avatar

Good for you for being exceptional. Not everybody gets to be exceptional.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Judi I think that the only exceptional thing about me is that I work very hard.

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon As do those putting in 90 hours a week just scraping by. You aren’t exceptional for working hard; many millions of working poor work harder than you. And it isn’t education since I know stock clerks and burger-flippers with degrees

You’re only exceptional in being old enough to have educated yourself and worked hard back when that sort of thing actually led to success. Until you realize that, you’re not ready for 2003, let alone 2013.

ragingloli's avatar

1 dollar in 1968 is the equivalent of 6.72 today. minimum wage in the us today is 7.25.
hardly “much less” than minimum wage.

ETpro's avatar

@gondwanalon When the US minimum wage went from $0.75 per hour to $1.00 per hour in 1956, that equated to $5.77 per hour in 1996 dollars. The current $7.75 level is $4.87 per hour in the same 1996 dollars. @jerv is right. It’s a very different world kids face today.

ragingloli's avatar

Let it also be said that this “I had to suffer, so everyone else must suffer as well” is quite disturbing.

ragingloli's avatar

And as a rebuff to your “exceptionally hard work”:
You got help from your family. You used government assistence in the form of food stamps and medicade. You relied on your employer being “merciful” to let you live in his attic.
If you had really worked “exceptionally hard”, you would not have needed any of that.

gondwanalon's avatar

I love you guys!

Thank you all for setting me straight. You are all so kind and helpful to me. I appreciate your thoughtful candor. Special thanks to @ragingloli (love ya) for your sweet and kind remarks. Only wish that you would simply open up and just say what is really on your mind.

Of course I miss represented myself by saying that I’m an exceptional hard worker. I’m sorry for that. I meant that I am simply willing to work very hard as do many others do. The point that I was trying to make is that perseverance and hard work is essential in achieving success.

As I said, I did receive help from my family and the state but not much. I had food stamps for 3 months, and Medicade to see a Urologist and one visit to the E.D. My Mom was living paycheck to paycheck and yet she managed to give me a small amount of money and my Grandmother offered to give me money but I didn’t take it. She sent me a check and I sent it back to her. She needed it more than I.

FYI: We just hired a Medical Technologist fresh out of school. He is 28 years old and is married with one kid. He worked as a District Manager of Domino’s Pizza while going to school to be a Med Tech and has no student loans. Talk about working hard. It is unlikely that I could work half as hard as that guy. Anyway, even in these troubled times hard work can pay off.

I would gladly give up everything that I’ve worked for and achieved to be young again and stating over. I envy young people today. They still have a world of opportunity before them. It’s sad to think that there are some can’t seem to see it and don’t even try to better themselves.

jerv's avatar

“The point that I was trying to make is that perseverance and hard work is essential in achieving success.”

Those are essential… for those that aren’t handed success merely by being born, marrying well, or getting lucky in the lottery. Still, the majority of successful people did work hard to get where they are, just not all of them. There are enough that didn’t to invalidate any blanket statement.

You can’t win if you don’t play, but playing doesn’t automatically mean you’ll win. This right here is where many people fail and why I cannot take many Conservatives seriously; an utter failure to understand the non-reciprocal relationship between hard work and success.

Just curious; does Domino’s hand out District Manager jobs that easily? Show me a kid that did that while working the counter for $8/hr and I might be impressed.

glacial's avatar

@gondwanalon “The point that I was trying to make is that perseverance and hard work is essential in achieving success.”

It is true that perseverance and hard work are good ways to achieve success. However, perseverance and hard work do not guarantee success. Just as some people inherit fortunes (and are thus successful despite neither perseverance nor hard work), some people persevere and work hard and still remain poor.

The end result does not show the evidence of whether a person has worked hard or not. The fact that you are successful and also worked hard does not mean that people who are unsuccessful have not worked hard.

Success does not necessarily come to all those who deserve it – and those who have it cannot be automatically deemed deserving.

ETpro's avatar

@gondwanalon We have a garbage collector on our route that looks to be in his 60s. He still hangs off the back of the truck and manhandles heavy garbage cans right along with the other 3 guys that work this route and are ⅓ to ½ his age. I reckon he has persevered and worked hard. He’s providing for his family, but just barely. He’s dong the best he can with the deck of cards he was dealt.

There are others that get worse hands. And there are those who come up in poor, strife ridden households where there are no books and there is no peace in which to read one. In the birth lottery, they inherit parents who are educationally deprived and abusive.

Imagine for a moment being born into generationally poor household where there were no books, educational programs were never on TV, and any childhood inquisitiveness was brutally suppressed by adults who were themselves the product of such an environment. How far would you have gotten had you been assigned that slot in the birth lottery?

I guess we could just decide to let them die on the sidewalks and have a skip loader come by and dump the carcasses in the harbor to feed the next catch of fish and lobsters. But is that the sort of country we want to be? It wouldn’t take to much to reverse that trend, to break generational poverty. You can’t do it by just handing out free money, but you CAN do it by handing out free education, and for families that are educationally poor, including parents and children.

gondwanalon's avatar

Wow, I didn’t think that this was doing to lead into a long discussion.

There are very few guarantees in life. One possible guarantee is failure if you don’t even try to better yourself. However if you work hard, then there is at least a chance of reaching a relatively high level of success.

RULE 1 of Bill Gate:
     “Life  is not fair – get used to it.”

I’m pretty sure that Domino’s doesn’t just hand out high level jobs willie-nillie. But it is obvious that it does recognize employee hard work and potential. My colleague is proof of that.

My early home life was not easy for me to say the least. It was more like Hell. My Dad died when I was 4 years old. I’ve been told that he was a dentist and a brilliant man. Unfortunately I’m no where near brilliant in any way. My Mom raised my 2 older Sisters and I by herself working 2 jobs with no government assistance whatsoever. We were a very unhappy group. Home life was pandemonium and squaller as I ran wild with no adult supervision. Mom was always at work or sleeping. I did poorly in school at first as I flunked 2nd grade. Somehow I made it to 4th grade without leaning to read. My 4th grade teacher would not stand for any of my nonsense and demanded that I start school ½ hour early each day to learn to read. She was the best teacher I ever had. She taught me much more than how to read. It was likely unintended but she helped me to see that it is easier to work hard and do good than it is to be lazy and do bad. Of course I can’t say this for sure but I think that my 4th grade teacher very likely saved my life. She helped me to open a door to a bright future.

ragingloli's avatar

Here is my rule:
“Life is not fair – venture to change that”

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon Hard work and potential are unrelated to promotions. Maybe they were back in the ‘50s, but now it’s often more about politics. I’ve worked for a few places like that, including the US Navy. At my last job, the only way to get >75% of fair market wages was to marry into the family, and I was passed over for promotion in favor of a person with half my skill, one-quarter my production, and who usually only worked 25–30 hours a week instead of my 45–50. And that is typical these days! After over 20 years of that sort of thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, how would you feel? You’d probably share my opinion on the relationship between effort and success.

Like many born after 1960, I’ve always learned to be a special type of lazy; work smarter, not harder. Do a task well and you’ll only do it once, and since doing a task well requires skill, spending a little effort to learn now will save you a lot of effort later. Do a job when it’s expected and you can avoid the effort and hassle of arguing over scheduling. Don’t measure productivity by how much your back aches or how little free time you have; measure productivity by how much you actually got done.

My laziness led me to develop many skills and a decent work ethic. Bosses don’t usually complain about showing up early, but they will if you show up late. They also bitch a lot less if you stay until a job is done than if you leave promptly at the 8-hour mark. So I work overtime because I am lazy. Of course, I don’t want to stay all night, so I need to figure out how to get 16 hours worth of work done in only 10 hours, and get it done correctly so that none of it comes back… but I’m just lazy enough to do that.

ETpro's avatar

@gondwanalon Nor did I. We’re also off in territory that, however interesting, isn’t answering the OP. So I will let you have the last word and turn my thought to crafting a question where our discussion is on topic.

gondwanalon's avatar

Hard work and potential recently worked well for the young man who advanced to District Manager of Domino’s Pizza. I can see him advancing into various manager positions in the medical field in the future if that’s what he wants. I’m not blind. In the last 10 years I’ve seen 2 deserving bench techs move into supervisor and manager positions at my hospital lab.

I’m sorry that you have struggled and realized small gains. It sounds like you’ve been kicked around and abused more than me. I guess that we all have our own survival behaviors in a brutal world. You work smart and I use brute tenacity and relentless perseverance. Whatever it takes to get the job done quickly with exactness.

FYI: I was in the Army for 18 years working in clinical and medical research labs and have witnessed a lot politics and fraud waste and abuse. I have many stories to tell about that. HA!

jerv's avatar

@gondwanalon It has gotten me a lot further than doing it the traditional way. The “perseverance and tenacity” route had me stuck many a time; I always lost out to less competent, less productive people who cupped the balls while they were under the desk. Different lives, different experiences.

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