Thursday, October 11, 2012

Whose body is it anyway?

The stack of benefit enrollment paperwork overflowed my mailbox last night. I've taken just a quick glance through it (health premium going up a whopping $3 per month - yay!), but already see some ever-more-intrusive components lining up to take effect either in 2013 or 2014.

New for 2013 is another tier of benefits, essentially an "employee +1". This is specifically to provide benefits to domestic partners, or to work as a slightly less expensive alternative to employees with a single dependent. And that is the catch: in order for an employee's domestic partner to quality for the "+1" status, the employee must provide more than half of their financial support (regardless of whether or not that partner may be taken as a dependent for federal tax purposes).  How exactly does one prove that to Human Resources? Or is the university going to take everyone at their word?

We are offered a discount on our monthly health insurance premium if we participate in a "health risk assessment". As it was originally explained when first established, the purpose of building a database of information about our employees' health is to better target the type of coverage we offer. Okaaaay...but now the use of that data is being expanded, as starting in 2013, the company collecting and analyzing the data for us will be using the information to "recommend" certain screenings. There is vaguely threatening language in the materials saying something to the effect that decisions on those screenings may have an impact on your 2014 premium discount.

In other words, go have that colonoscopy or the insurance company will give you one anyway!

I'm sorry; that's not fair. The government has already done that.

Even if you don't participate in the HRA (I don't; it is not yet mandatory, and if/when it becomes mandatory, I may explore the ramifications of my employer essentially forcing me to share medical data I do not wish to share), your health care is not your own. Based on the types of prescriptions you have filled, our health care management firm sends out lots of colorful brochures pimping recommending various of their services and encouraging you to let them "manage" your health care.

Yes, the current system is broken. Costs are high; for many people, insurance is a luxury. But Obamacare, for all its intent to help people, makes that system unbearably worse.

I'll admit to being cranky this morning, and not having read the materials in detail enough to make more cogent arguments. I grew up in a time when health insurance was viewed as the holy grail of employment; when you secured employment that offered you that benefit, you truly had it made. Even then, if you were young and healthy, you might forgo the expense for a few years.

The decisions about your health care were your own, not your employer's, not the insurance company's and certainly not mandated by the government. I'm more than a bit weary of having to live my life and make my decisions based on someone else's idea of what is right.


melissa said...


I remember the days when I was a kid (you remember those days at the same time!), and while my folks didn't have insurance, they COULD afford to take us to the doctor. It wasn't wildly expensive, but reasonable for everybody.

Diane said...

All the technology and drug development has driven costs up. The companies need to recover their R & D costs, so pass it on to the consumer. I'd like to see the gov't fund a massive R & D effort, with the results freely available to the medical community at reasonable prices.

That may be the only area I'd like to see more gov't involvement :)