Part I of this two-part series focused on that 15 percent of the United States population that is without health benefits. It was disturbing to learn that 80 percent of uninsured households have at least one parent working full-time, and still they are without health benefits.
But there is another trend in the US that is more startling! Shrinking health benefits for employed Americans AND retirees alike. What is even more disturbing is that, because health benefits are shrinking a little bit at a time, many people don’t realize it’s impact until it’s too late.
Deductibles rise and restrictions are placed on the kinds of services that are available. Dental, vision, chiropractic care and prescription drugs are all targets for restricted services or payout limits. In addition, both employer and government-sponsored health benefits programs are requiring larger contributions from the “insured”.
In March 2006, Jim Jubak (investment guru) wrote about how his father’s pension check was cut in half because the company that he retired from upped his health benefits contribution by $170 a month-with no notice!
According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the average cost of employer-sponsored health care plans was $3695 for an individual and $9950 for a family. The employee’s average contribution to this plan was $2261, which is more than a 160 percent increase [from 2000 to 2004].
Who should we blame? Highly paid doctors and pharmaceutical companies for skyrocketing healthcare costs? Large companies for not seeing the impact that the aging Baby Boomers would have on their ability to take care of their retired employees? The federal government for not legislating a fix to an overwhelming problem?
The fact is that everyone and no one is to blame. And the problem isn’t getting any smaller, not for a long time.
Fortunately, there are some problem solvers out there. And once again, they come in the form of Consumer Driven Health benefits programs. These programs offer something called “Supplemental Health Benefits” packages. And they work like this. For a small monthly fee, supplemental health program members get discounted rates on the very health services insurance companies are cutting. And the discounts are sizable. AmeriPlan reports up to 80% savings to its members for dental care alone. What’s more, anyone can join. No one is turned down for any reason, including preexisting health or dental conditions.
The challenges of the US health care system have not gone away. The problems run deep and wide. For those of us who need complete health services-and peace of mind-Supplemental Health Benefits may be the answer.