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Many Retirees May Lose Benefit From Employers
December 26, 2007 8:18 PM   Subscribe

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits for those who are older.
Many retirees may lose their benefits entirely.
posted by brevator (80 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a reason something like this is done on the day after Christmas.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 PM on December 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


The headline for the EEOC press release "EEOC MOVES TO PROTECT RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS"
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 PM on December 26, 2007


this is unbelievable--just appalling.
posted by amberglow at 8:43 PM on December 26, 2007


well, now, what's good for the rich fat cat motherfuckers is definitely good for america. shame on you bolsheviks for questioning that.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:54 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


WHAT ABOUT GRANDPA'S BRAIN MEDICATION?
posted by dhammond at 8:55 PM on December 26, 2007


The invisible hand wins again! Our markets sure are getting efficient! Ron Paul in 2068!
posted by maxwelton at 8:57 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


What does this have to do with efficient markets exactly? I don't like this any more than you do but this isn't capitalism that did this, it was the EEOC Commissioners.
posted by Pants! at 9:01 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S. What good is served exactly by spending employer money on top of that to pay for a separate set of less comprehensive benefits?
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:02 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another massive giveaway to one of the most profitable sectors of the American economy, the "health" insurance industry.

1. Remove the riskiest, sickest people from your insurance rolls.
2. ???
3. Profit!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:06 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]




Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S. What good is served exactly by spending employer money on top of that to pay for a separate set of less comprehensive benefits?


Um, because almost no one over the age of 65, except the very poor, goes without a Medicare supplement. When you are 65, it is a virtual certainty you are going to have a major hospitalization in the near future. When you collect $700 a month, your share of the hospital bill *will* deplete all of your resources. There are a lucky few in this country, in return for a lifetime of service to a large corporation, are granted continued health benefits and are spared this dilemma. Not any more, I suppose.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:11 PM on December 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


Why is this so terrible? It sounds like employers were moving towards giving no health benefits at all, so the commission is saying they don't have to provide benefits to people getting covered under another plan (Medicare), in order to encourage them to continue giving them to those who don't qualify for Medicare. I can't see how this would cause anyone to 'lose benefits entirely'.
posted by jacalata at 9:13 PM on December 26, 2007


Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S. What good is served exactly by spending employer money on top of that to pay for a separate set of less comprehensive benefits?

Medicare has limitations (supposedly pays for only one month in a hospital), according to my grandparents.

Employer provided healthcare paid for my grandfather's (over 65) sometimes months long hospitalization and recovery (he worked for same company for 40 years). So under this new regulation, if his former employer and insurance company decide to drop him due to "high expense," the hospital could literally kick him out once his medicare benefits (1 month) were used up and because he could never afford hospital expenses on their fixed income? Is that correct?
posted by peppito at 9:18 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


To clarify my earlier knee jerk comments, I don't think this is surprising or necessarily bad in the long run. But, in the short term, the big winners are health insurance companies and large employers (and the candidates they fund) and the immediate big losers are retirees who haven't made contingency plans. Oh yes, and doctors who will have to accept the lower payments from Medicare instead of what they usually get from Aetna or Blue Shield.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:23 PM on December 26, 2007


if his former employer and insurance company decide to drop him due to "high expense," the hospital could literally kick him out once his medicare benefits (1 month) were used up and because he could never afford hospital expenses

I often wonder if the politicians are trying on purpose to make this a third-world country or if it's just a side effect of their various corruptions. When do we get the foreign tourists coming to use their vastly more valuable currencies to live like a king and buy sex from our children?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:26 PM on December 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


When do we get the foreign tourists coming to use their vastly more valuable currencies to live like a king and buy sex from our children?

You'll be safe from that as long as you're beating tourists with rubber hose as the borders.

When you are 65, it is a virtual certainty you are going to have a major hospitalization in the near future.

Not that I even understand the post (yay for universal-healthcare-bar-dentistry-and-costly-Alzheimers-drugs!), but that's a bizarre statement, unless you've heavily redefined "certainty" and "near future".
posted by Leon at 9:38 PM on December 26, 2007


When do we get the foreign tourists coming to use their vastly more valuable currencies to live like a king and buy sex from our children?

Don't most countries with sex tourists and what have you also have socialized healthcare. America is pursuing a whole other kind of lame here.
posted by chunking express at 9:46 PM on December 26, 2007



When you are 65, it is a virtual certainty you are going to have a major hospitalization in the near future.

Not that I even understand the post (yay for universal-healthcare-bar-dentistry-and-costly-Alzheimers-drugs!), but that's a bizarre statement, unless you've heavily redefined "certainty" and "near future".


Sorry I couldn't find an easier-to-read reference, but in 2004 out of every 100 persons over 65 in the U.S., there were 50 ER visits, 13% of which resulted in hospital admissions. Seeing as how someone could take my house from me if I couldn't pay my share of the bypass surgery bill, these odds would make me a little uncomfortable if I were 65.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:57 PM on December 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ah, much better link. The National Center for Health Statistics is amaaazing. Between 2002-2004 there were 3629.8 hospitalizations per 10,000 Americans over the age of 65. Odds are 1 in 3 you will be hospitalized in the next 3 years if you're 65, or 100% over the next 9 years. There are all kinds of ways to mislead people into supporting my point that if you don't have comprehensive health insurance at age 65 you are *screwed*.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:09 PM on December 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


100%, eh?
posted by smackfu at 10:21 PM on December 26, 2007


Have any of you broken a promise for what you believed was a good reason?

I suspect that is what is going on here. Not going to verify what was said in that NYT article tonight because I am on my way to bed, but let's assume that they were accurate in saying that the premiums for companies providing health care have risen 78% since 2001. That is a staggering increase. I doubt few companies have seen that kind of increase in their profits in the same time frame.

A company that does not choose to deal with the reality of this kind of increase in expense, will not be in business very long. Small companies will just throw in the towel and, if lucky, reform under a different name, this time without providing any benefits other than legislated. Other small companies will just call it a day and close.

It's a bitch to lose benefits you thought you had, but a bigger bitch to lose both a paycheck and those said benefits. Those over 65 have a safey net in Medicare, the unemployed are freefalling, while trying to hang on to their kids on the way down. Heavy load for all parties here, but I am convinced that a failure of companies to make tough decisions will ultimately mean there will be more freefallers.
posted by LiveLurker at 10:24 PM on December 26, 2007


On the one hand, I'm all for forced retirement: stagnation is death, and thus the need for new blood in the workforce. An age limit is one method.

On the other hand, you need a society where one does not have to work beyond age 65. That society isn't to be found in the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on December 26, 2007


Slarty Bartfast: but "when you are 65" and "over 65" are different groups, yes? Ah, hell, I don't know why I'm arguing semantics. I concede the point - in the long run, nearly everyone ends up in a hospital bed.
posted by Leon at 10:41 PM on December 26, 2007


Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S.

My Mom's on "Medi-Medi" here in California . . . let me tell you, availability of care SUCKS.

There is ONE dermatologist taking Medicare patients in the entire Central Valley.

Things are undoubtedly better in eg. Santa Cruz or other high-class town, but Medicare pays shit so doctors only take Medicare patients if they have to.

Some "universal" system there. LOL.
posted by panamax at 10:55 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Have any of you broken a promise for what you believed was a good reason?

It depends on what the intent of the original promise was. If I made a stupid, immoral promise, then yes, I wouldn't mind breaking it to keep from doing something wrong. The purpose of the "break" must be alot higher than the purpose of the original promise, if I'm going to break it morally.

The issue here, though, is that many companies made a promise to take care of their workers, and now they're going back on that promise to earn more profits. Its just another way of saying "Hey Bob, thanks for all your hard work. Sadly, our 5% growth rate for this year is threatened by your continued mortal existence, so, Bob, I'm afraid that next time you go to the hospital for your heart arythmia, you're on your own. Good luck, pal!"

The bitching about capitalism in this thread may be misdirected, but only slightly. We've gotten the sense over the past few generations (certainly over the past few years) that in modern America, Profits > People's Lives. This news is seen as yet another example of our further decline into the "Defeated, Collapsed Empire Club".
posted by Avenger at 10:55 PM on December 26, 2007 [7 favorites]


Instead of whining about corporate profits, start building your stock portfolio when in your 20s. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 11:37 PM on December 26, 2007


you'd've made a great kapo, "Tex".
posted by panamax at 11:43 PM on December 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


That was a pretty offensive and stupid thing to say, panamax.

Look, if people are convinced that corporations make such huge profits, it makes perfect sense to buy profit interests in corporations. They're readily available, heavily regulated, and not all that expensive.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 11:51 PM on December 26, 2007


On a related note, my HMO sent me a letter today saying they were becoming a for-profit corporation.

The ugly reality is no one is doing anything to bring these costs down. And that is, on the one hand, just what insurers and doctors want because their pockets get lined. And people are living longer, which is in part due to greater access to medical care.

What something like this might do is lead elder Americans to simply not seek care as much as they used to, by choice or by necessity. If it's a decision between paying a Medicare fee and eating for a week, you will see the same kind of scrimping and saving that some older people already do when choosing their medication or dinner.

Absolutely horrible. I only wonder when someone in government will finally be able to push a universal healthcare system through.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:01 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look, if people are convinced that corporations make such huge profits, it makes perfect sense to buy profit interests in corporations. They're readily available, heavily regulated, and not all that expensive.

When you are teetering on bankruptcy because you got hit by a car that sped off, it's tough to manage a portfolio.
posted by ryoshu at 12:22 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


it makes perfect sense to buy profit interests in corporations

So, Dr Free Enterprise of America, what happens to the dividends when everyone buys profit interests?

The kapo remark was more about the idiocy of thinking "joining" an evil system would actually improve it. Those who buy in, like the connected private Equity groups like The Carlysle Group, Haliburton, etc. will get theirs, but there are actually better systems out there. Modern society is immensely productive, enough to support the needs of our retirees without them having to feed and maintain their retirement portfolios for decades.
posted by panamax at 12:38 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I wonder what this will do to the votes of all those elderly Bush supporters?
posted by JHarris at 1:02 AM on December 27, 2007


Oh my, look at that (as Greenspan put it,) demographic timebomb. The timer says it's going to go off pretty soon.

Maybe if we wrap it in tape it won't explode and hurt us badly!
posted by mullingitover at 1:08 AM on December 27, 2007


Seriously though, I'm tempted to start a raffle so we can all bet on when the government will start issuing home euthanasia kits. My dollar says 2020.

Principles are for people who aren't starving or dying.
posted by mullingitover at 1:14 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, Dr Free Enterprise of America, what happens to the dividends when everyone buys profit interests?

I have no idea what you're trying to ask. I suspect you're probably thinking about things in terms of a fixed "pie," which is leading you to conclude that wider investment would lead to lower per capita returns, but that's hilariously backwards.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 1:21 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If this gets smug, aging Republicans, Libertarians, etc. to understand that the health care system is not only broken, but it suddenly is an issue that endangers them as well as the "lazy underclass" of freelancer kids, unemployed or unemployed (or even just stuck at Walmart for 39.5 hour workweeks) "urban populations", the elderly who "made poor choices during their working years", etc., I'm all for it.
posted by availablelight at 1:37 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are two groups in the US: the haves, and the been-hads.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:40 AM on December 27, 2007 [8 favorites]


Well...I don't know anything about statistics, or lower per capita returns. I do know my grandparents lucked out with their employers of 35 years and get taken care of very well for the time being; something they absolutely couldn't do on Medicare alone. So shit on this.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:43 AM on December 27, 2007


[the second "unemployed" = "underemployed"]
posted by availablelight at 1:47 AM on December 27, 2007


Instead of whining about corporate profits, start building your stock portfolio when in your 20s. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

because it's a guarantee that everyone's stock portfolio will grow and grow and grow

or we could just vote for people who will fix our health care system now
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 AM on December 27, 2007


because it's a guarantee that everyone's stock portfolio will grow and grow and grow

See, this is the bizarre logic of it. Corporate profits are apparently growing at an obscene rate, but if you buy a slice of these profits, you might lose money. Which is it, people?

or we could just vote for people who will fix our health care system now

Oh, that's all? Nobody agrees what "fixed" health care would look like. Nobody agrees on how to implement any particular "fix." Nobody has the political will to do any of this. Instead of bitching and waiting for someone to save you, take care of your damn self.

If you really can't do anything useful enough to justify paying you a sufficient wage to take care of yourself, learn some skills.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 2:40 AM on December 27, 2007


See, this is the bizarre logic of it. Corporate profits are apparently growing at an obscene rate

are they? that's not my understanding

but if you buy a slice of these profits, you might lose money.

do you mean to say that it's impossible for people to lose money in the stock market?

Which is it, people?

neither, as you well know

Oh, that's all? Nobody agrees what "fixed" health care would look like.

actually, a lot of people do - electing people who agree with them has so far been the problem

I don't agree on how to implement any particular "fix." I don't have the political will to do any of this. Instead of bitching and waiting for someone to save you, take care of your damn self.

fixed that for you - you only claim that "nobody" can agree on this because YOU don't agree

If you really can't do anything useful enough to justify paying you a sufficient wage to take care of yourself, learn some skills.

except, if you'd read closely, this would seem to concern workers who had been told at one time that they were sufficiently skilled for a company to give them adequate health coverage, along with wages, and now could see those companies renege on that

it's kind of hard to tell what's "useful" enough to justify things when you're being lied to about it, isn't it?

how about putting some real thought into your next post instead of parroting what the guys at the vfw club say after they've had a few?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:58 AM on December 27, 2007


Have any of you broken a promise for what you believed was a good reason?

Now that you mention it, my wife has put on a few pounds lately.
posted by hal9k at 3:44 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


According to the article the AFL-CIO and other labor groups support the rule, as a means to preserve the benefits of younger workers. Hardly a right-wing conspiracy.

Anyway, people who think that corporations abandoning health plans will lead to wide-spread untreated illness or injury are wrong. It will lead to some form of government-provided or -organized universal health care.

Middle class voters vote themselves whatever entitlements they think they need. Corporate opposition is as a gnat before a hurricane, when it gets to that point. The moment -- I mean, the second -- that a critical mass of middle class voters has any fear that they will lose their employment-based healthcare and won't be able to replace it, Congress will pass and the President will sign radical national healthcare legislation.

The trick, of course, is going to be in the mechanics -- the insurance companies and privately-owned providers will struggle to maximize their participation in the new regime, but, unlike in prior battles, they will have opposition because every incremental increase in cost imposed by accommodation of the old for-profit sector will increase the tax or out-of-pocket expense of the system. Medicare Part "D" -- the drug subsidy passed earlier this decade -- despite being political crack nearly failed because of the tax-expense that its accommodations to the insurers and providers imposed. With costs that are multiples higher, I think the insurers and providers will have a harder time if and when they fight the universal-care battle.
posted by MattD at 3:58 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't see how this would cause anyone to 'lose benefits entirely'.

My bad.
I should have written that "Many retirees may lose their employee benefits entirely."
posted by brevator at 4:17 AM on December 27, 2007


The moment -- I mean, the second -- that a critical mass of middle class voters has any fear that they will lose their employment-based healthcare and won't be able to replace it, Congress will pass and the President will sign radical national healthcare legislation.

Which is, of course, exactly why we left Iraq.
posted by eriko at 4:23 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


The real trick is to work not in the private sector, but to suck on the teat of the public sector. Full pensions and full medical after 27 years of service...which means we have people who are only 46 years old retiring from city and transit jobs with 100% paid medical.

Soylent Green is People! The less adequate the coverage the fewer preservatives in my Soylent Green.
posted by Gungho at 4:23 AM on December 27, 2007


Interestingly, this morning I noticed this is "front-page" news on neither Google News nor NPR.org, although Morning Edition briefly mentioned it on the air.

I'm wondering what the backlash from AARP will look like, assuming there is one.
posted by pax digita at 4:31 AM on December 27, 2007


This won't affect any CEOs over 65 will it? HOW WILL THEY SURVIVE?
posted by Max Power at 5:03 AM on December 27, 2007


Okay, I admit I should've read the NYT article first: AARP had already sued to block this and apparently won, only to have their victory overturned on appeal; next stop, apparently, the Supreme Court.

The spouses/dependents get nailed next....

Further, employers will be able to reduce or eliminate health benefits provided to the spouse or dependents of a retired worker 65 or over, regardless of whether benefits for the retiree are changed.

And besides,

In general, the commission observed, employers are not required by federal law to provide health benefits to either active or retired workers.

We'll probably wind up in a single-payor system by default because everybody will be priced out of everything else but Medicaid and Medicare, for which eligibility rules will have to be adjusted...

This won't affect any CEOs over 65 will it?

...but before we get to that point, I'm sure that senior management will be among the last to see their benefits affected -- the Iron Law of Distribution: "Them that has, gets."
posted by pax digita at 5:07 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S. What good is served exactly by spending employer money on top of that to pay for a separate set of less comprehensive benefits?
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:02 AM on December 27 [+] [!]


That is a most disappointing comment coming from you, a health professional and otherwise apparently intelligent. Medicare does not cover everything, hence the popularity of supplemental coverage.
posted by caddis at 5:37 AM on December 27, 2007


Avenger: many companies made a promise to take care of their workers

Serious question here, no snark within: I'm in my early 30s, I've worked for a few large corporations and a few non-profits, and not one has ever "made a promise to take care of" me. Me and everyone I know in my age group switch jobs every 3-5 years anyway. What exactly is this promise you're referring to, because I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around its existence. I've never been under the illusion that my employers actually cared about my long-term well-being.
posted by desjardins at 5:40 AM on December 27, 2007


Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S.

I'm surprised that a self-described doctor would call Medicare "universal health care" as if it comes anywhere near providing the scope, overall quality and duration of services that single payer coverage provides in Canada and Europe. This must be Swiftian satire.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:43 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Retiree medical care is a crisis of impending epidemic proportions, as you demographic-watchers have pointed out. This is not news. It's why benefits are now being 'marketed' as a partnership between employer and employee, why employees are being educated and given more benefits options, including the high deductible health plan with a health savings account attached. This option is triple-tax free savings for use to pay out of pocket medical expenses now, but even more importantly (although this message varies from company to company depending on how squeamish they are about telling the painful truth) to save for retiree medical expenses. It's why the HDHP and HSA were designed by insurance companies -- everyone has seen this day coming. Because the sad truth is -- again, not exactly news -- you need money for medical expenses most urgently when you are no longer getting a paycheck. So you better be planning for that day. In this fractured healthcare landscape and shallow economy, it's critical to plan as if it's no one's responsibility but your own.

As desjardins points out, the changing workforce -- young people whose skills evolve as technology does, who are less tied to geography, who have no loyalty (and why should they?) to their employer and who want their 'benefits' to be portable -- are transforming the old concepts of 'benefits'. Lamenting how it used to be is a waste of time. Start planning!
posted by thinkpiece at 6:37 AM on December 27, 2007


So you better be planning for that day. In this fractured healthcare landscape and shallow economy, it's critical to plan as if it's no one's responsibility but your own.

If the company you worked for made promises as to retirement health coverage, they need to keep their promises, not dump anyone they want whenever they want.

If we have responsibility, they should have some too. Why do corporations always get rights and privileges, but never responsibilities as well?
posted by amberglow at 7:45 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Eriko -- we would be out of Iraq if American voters opposed it even one-tenth as much as they support having healthcare for themselves and their families.

It's pretty hard to say that there is a coherent out-of-Iraq political movement among mainstream voters. It was just one of many things that drew votes to Democratic candidates in 2006, and probably not even the biggest of those things. It wasn't part of the official Democratic platform in 2006 and hasn't been a serious institutional agenda item of the Democrats thus far in 2007 (budget appropriations supporting the "Surge" count, symbolic withdrawal motions don't.)

The real difference between Iraq and healthcare can be seen in the Presidential campaigns.

Every Democratic candidate has some form of "universal" care in his or her platform and most of the Republicans have proposals to expand coverage as well. Not one serious Republican will stand up privatized healthcare as being good on its own terms, but merely as something likely to be better than a bureaucratic alternative.

Turning to Iraq, every Republican excluding Ron Paul is an advocate to stay the course. By contrast, Clinton and Obama have only general proposals to slowly end the involvement of American combat brigades -- plans which would easily be slowed or suspended, and would nevertheless leave American intelligence, special forces, infantry advisers, military police and law enforcement advisers, and combat air elements all engaged. And their (Clinton / Obama) positions are what they have now, while they are ardently courting the left-wing elements of the Democratic primary and caucus electorates. When the nomination is locked and they swing to the center to win the general elections, their views on Iraq are likely to get more moderate and nuanced, not less.
posted by MattD at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2007


except, if you'd read closely, this would seem to concern workers who had been told at one time that they were sufficiently skilled for a company to give them adequate health coverage, along with wages, and now could see those companies renege on that

If the employer actually promised to continue to provide health coverage for the entire term of employment in exchange for the employee's work, then all we have a simple broken contract. Of course, the employer promised no such thing, and the employees merely hoped that health coverage would continue, but don't let that slow you down.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 8:41 AM on December 27, 2007


If the company you worked for made promises as to retirement health coverage, they need to keep their promises, not dump anyone they want whenever they want.

Then sue the employer. Except, that's right, you'd lose, because the promise was imaginary, or if it wasn't imaginary, it certainly wasn't enforceable. Your employer isn't your damn grandpa, people. It doesn't owe you and you don't owe it anything more than the two of you write down and agree to or the law otherwise provides.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 8:46 AM on December 27, 2007


Nobody agrees what "fixed" health care would look like. Nobody agrees on how to implement any particular "fix."

I have only ever heard this statement from someone who is either profiting from the current system or who is entirely uninformed about practical, workable solutions. Among health professionals who really study this problem, there is growing consensus, actually.

Nobody has the political will to do any of this.

Sadly, this is true. See my statement above about who is profiting from the current system.

And before people start talking about who providers with their pockets getting lined, consider that many of us, particularly primary care providers, have been taking it in the ass for more than a decade. My income has actually gone down, in real dollars, over the last 5 years. Plus, I get to spend all day dealing with sick, anxious people who are pissed off about what they're paying for their health care and who are not getting the quality they should. No one wants the current system destroyed more than this provider.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:52 AM on December 27, 2007


Blazecock Pileon: "Um, people who are 65 are already eligible for universal health care here in the U.S.

I'm surprised that a self-described doctor would call Medicare "universal health care" as if it comes anywhere near providing the scope, overall quality and duration of services that single payer coverage provides in Canada and Europe. This must be Swiftian satire.
"

Please. Having personally experienced Medicare and German health insurance they're very similar.
posted by aerotive at 9:36 AM on December 27, 2007


Your employer isn't your damn grandpa, people

People -- workers that produced the wealth that the corporations profited in trade from -- bargained current wages for contractual promises of lifetime medical insurance.

While in real-life I, like you, am highly self-sufficient and aren't looking for Big Govt or my employer to provide lifetime bennies, I understand that in our society not 100% of the people have the faculties to begin with, the discpline to develop them, nor can catch the breaks to possess the l33t jobskills that pay significantly more than the minimum wage.

The System is ba-ro-ken. Sooner or later you'll figure this out.
posted by panamax at 9:52 AM on December 27, 2007


In the USA, ancient seniors are being forced to work at minimum wage to pay their city taxes.

As all truly civilized societies do, of course.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 AM on December 27, 2007


If the company you worked for made promises as to retirement health coverage, they need to keep their promises, not dump anyone they want whenever they want.

In an ideal world, sure. But if the money gets used up, it's gone. We are learning this lesson with Social Security, with pensions disappearing, and now with retiree benefits. Your health coverage is in jeopardy too. In the not too distant future, your company will simply provide you with negotiated discounted options available for you to purchase healthcare for yourself. That's the goal of consumer-driven healthcare -- it's starting now with Flexible Spending Accounts and the Health Savings Account. We are in early phase "awareness and education" to hand this responsibility to the employee. Corporations desperately want to get out of the doctor/patient/insurer transaction -- it's only a matter of time.

If we have responsibility, they should have some too. Why do corporations always get rights and privileges, but never responsibilities as well?

Because government lets them off the hook in order to keep the whole ball of wax rolling. Because the 'economy' isn't a sure bet and corporations are run by fallible and greedy human beings who make promises to the larger community in order to justify their own personal big giant paydays and then, of course, can't make the numbers work (but that takes years to manifest itself!) Because they are often private and therefore resistant to transparency, social commmerce and sustainability (physical, economic, succession, on and on) and are playing catch up while trying not to look like they don't know what they are doing. Because they are in cahoots with the health and welfare plan designers at insurance companies.

Just please, forget the Ameriprise-Dennis Hopper roaring-off-into the-sunset-on-a-Harley fantasy of retirement. Your retirement money must cover your living expenses and your often catastrophic health care costs.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:54 AM on December 27, 2007


"Your employer isn't your damn grandpa, people. It doesn't owe you and you don't owe it anything more than the two of you write down and agree to or the law otherwise provides."

Many people were explicitly promised a retirement that included lifetime benefits, in return for a lifetime of service for the company.

The company should not be allowed to lobby for a legal change to that contract after the fact, even if a peasant-hater like you thinks that should be legal.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


We are learning this lesson with Social Security, with pensions disappearing, and now with retiree benefits.

Every single one of these is an example where there would have been no problem if the money hadn't been gambled away in the meantime.

Sadly, greedy executives and investors often choose to "borrow" from projected future earnings to pay dividends and bonuses today, until eventually the retirement funds (which were perfectly reasonable to begin with) have ballooned into enormous burdens, and the companies pretend this was not at all their fault.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If it hasn't been pointed out yet, it should be: it's the current crop of 65 year olds who are responsible (in large part) for the social and fiscal policies and priorities of the US government over the last 20-30 years. It's ironic how they kept on trying to convince themselves, and us, it would be "our grandchildren" who would end up footing the bill; the whole time they feigned as though this was a terrible consequence.

Life Lesson #1: it doesn't always work out the way we want.
posted by ogre at 12:35 PM on December 27, 2007


Remember the Philip Morris study 'Public Finance Balance of Smoking in the Czech Republic,' which suggested encouraging smoking so the elderly would die sooner?

Our experience is that, after our dentist retired, it took years to find a dentist we trusted to drill holes in our head. We also have had a good optometrist. However, the company my wife works for changed ownership, and the new insurance doesn't cover these medical professionals, whom we have now used for years. In our case, the free market has forced us out of care we know is good.
posted by dragonsi55 at 12:41 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why do people in this thread keep saying "on medicare alone?" Did you not RTFA? It says they can offer DIFFERENT benefits to the over-65, not NO benefits. You go from a plan that covers everytyhing, to a plan that covers everything medicare doesn't. Not saying I want to have any portion of my care be Medicare m'self, just saying you shouldn't misrepresent the situation just to score terror points.
posted by nomisxid at 1:30 PM on December 27, 2007


Yeah, I noticed that, nomisxid but the article doesn't really differentiate. Employers seem to have to option to pay for A) some or B) none or their retirees' insurance plan. If the contract between retirees and the corporation is nullified, why pay for anything?

I'm with ogre on this. Part of me just wants to throw my hands up and tell the retiring Baby Boomers', well it's your mess. Deal. Of course that doesn't help me and my kids, but from my perspective it's easy to see that the organization I work for won't be paying for my health care when I'm old and that we need to come up with a real, durable solution.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:01 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


it's the current crop of 65 year olds who are responsible (in large part) for the social and fiscal policies and priorities of the US government over the last 20-30 years.

Bullshit. It's the last 20-30 years' worth of politicians who aren't subject to those policies and priorities who are responsible for them. Everyone I know in my age group has been decrying the deteriorating health care situation for years. No one has listened. Why should they? The enormous pile of manure the politicians have made out of our nation's health-care system is not going to land on them. They're the ones on the government tit, not the Medicare recipients.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:20 PM on December 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Instead of bitching and waiting for someone to save you, take care of your damn self.

Say that when your house is on fire.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:39 PM on December 27, 2007


"Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys: Instead of bitching and waiting for someone to save you, take care of your damn self.

Whatever. That policy applies equally well to everything else society provides as well.

Can we have a vote to throw Tex off the roads and withdraw military, police, and fire protections? If you can't keep North Korea from killing you and taking your stuff, I guess you didn't invest in enough stocks to hire enough mercenaries to save you. You get no sympathy from me.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:56 PM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yes, Yes. I get it: blame the politicians, and not the people who vote them into office. Many people are trapped in the delusion that the conflicts in the U.S. are intrinsically philosophical in nature: Democrat/Republican or liberal/conservative or blue-state/red-state or secular/religious.

That struggle your seeing? It's actually a Baby Boomer desperately trying to get into your wallet. And what happens when you catch them picking your pockets? They will, without a hint of irony, blame it all on the man.
posted by ogre at 9:29 PM on December 27, 2007


That struggle your seeing? It's actually a Baby Boomer desperately trying to get into your wallet. And what happens when you catch them picking your pockets? They will, without a hint of irony, blame it all on the man.

Nice soft, safe, target there, eh, Ogre? Kind of like attacking Iraq. Maybe you should see a doctor, I hear they've got quite good at dealing with these kinds of daddy issues. Or do you think it's going to benefit you to curry favor with the corporatistas?
posted by Goofyy at 12:02 AM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, Yes. I get it: blame the politicians, and not the people who vote them into office.

So - only the current crop of 65-year-olds voted for Reagan, the Bushes and the Corporate Congress? I got more news for you: Those guys got elected on the premise that government can't do anything as well as the "private sector," and the younger (and a lot of older) voters lapped that shit up. Some of the now-65ers did, too, but they were far from alone. I seriously doubt that a majority of those Reagan and Bush voters approve of what has been done to the health-care system. That they were too shortsighted to predict the outcome, or voted to affect other issues, doesn't mean the politicians carried out their will.

In my adult lifetime, the U.S. political scene has taken a hard turn toward corporate power, and it remains far off in that direction, compared to where it was pre-Reagan. Until the government goes back to trying to benefit real citizens, instead of corporate ones, things aren't going to improve.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:26 AM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


A return to "By the People, For the People," you mean?

Well, given the USA is about to enter a second Great Depression, I'd guess it's possible that all y'all will finally see the sense in banking reform, emergency relief, unionism, social securities, and all that jazz.

Ain't much point in having a government if it isn't caring for its people.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:30 AM on December 28, 2007


Not much point at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:43 AM on December 28, 2007



"Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys wrote: See, this is the bizarre logic of it. Corporate profits are apparently growing at an obscene rate, but if you buy a slice of these profits, you might lose money. Which is it, people?

Apparently you do not understand the relationship (or lack thereof) of stock price to profit margin. Nor have you paid much attention to the decreasing dividend payments of most companies in the last twenty years. I somehow think you stand to gain by drawing more stooges who haven't the time nor skill to monitor a portfolio closely enough to prevent getting cleaned out into the market. You are also treating "corporations" as a monolithic group, rather than the diverse entities they are.

Of course, this is all academic as long as the Friedmanistas remain in power.
posted by wierdo at 8:01 PM on December 28, 2007


Nor have you paid much attention to the decreasing dividend payments of most companies in the last twenty years.

Which can easily be explained by a tax code that:
1. Does not (and probably cannot) allow for a deduction for the cost of equity.
2. Favors share buybacks over dividends as a method of returning cash to shareholders.
3. Treats scrip-for-scrip exchanges of control and asset sales completely differently.

Bashing Friedmanistas when you apparently can't grasp this 101-type stuff, widely believed in by Chicago School and Orthodox Keynesians alike, is poor form. Your point is profoundly unacademic.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:38 PM on December 30, 2007


and meanwhile, meet the new MedFICO: How healthy is your medical credit score?
System being designed to help hospitals figure out whether you'll pay them

posted by amberglow at 7:43 PM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a wonderful confection of the health-insurance and credit industries!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 AM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


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