Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

09.24 Everything you've been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn't recycling

09.24 Unlocking secrets of sea level rise in Greenland [15 minute video]

09.24 Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

09.24 What are public lands?

09.24 The Netherlands Unveils the World's First Recycled Plastic Bike Lane

09.24 Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include immigrants from other nations similarly affected]

09.24 Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]

09.23 Nasa launches satellite to precisely track how Earth's ice is melting

09.23 Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

09.21 Greed is killing Alaska's salmon habitat – but we can still save it

09.21 Trump administration poses new threat to birds in allowing ‘incidental’ killings

09.20 Al Gore Is Still Optimistic [24:06 video; rather than future Frankenstein governments, how can we better ensure having brilliantly efficient & competent governments?]

09.20 The $11 trillion question Chris Cillizza can't answer

09.20 Florence sparks pollution fears after excrement-filled 'hog lagoons' overflow

09.20 EU must end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet climate targets – report

News Media Matters

09.22 Progressives to DNC: It Would Be 'Insane' Not to Hand Over Twitter Account to Ocasio-Cortez

09.20 Morning Edition’s Think Tank Sources Lean to the Right

09.19 Taibbi: Bernie Sanders’ Anti-Amazon Bill Is an Indictment of the Media, Too

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.24 Sexual assault is fun if we can all 'lighten up' about it

09.24 Brett Kavanaugh faces second allegation of sexual misconduct09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]

09.23 Trump Is Strangling the U.S. Refugee Program to Death

09.23 Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

09.23 The Trump Administration's Latest Tax Scam for the Rich [video]

09.23 One Tiny Tax Reform, Billions for America

09.22 As Right-Wingers Push Trump to Fire Rosenstein, Here's What to Do If He Does

Justice Matters

09.22 Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

09.22 Why isn't Mark Judge testifying about Kavanaugh? He is an alleged witness

High Crimes?

09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

09.16 Merchants of Death Profit from the Bombing of Children as a US-Backed War Goes Largely Ignored

Economics, Crony Capitalism

09.23 The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire [1:18:01 documentary video; the Book]

09.23 Why We Have To Break Up Amazon

International & Futurism

09.24 'Stop this disaster': Brazilian women mobilise against 'misogynist' far-right Bolsonaro

09.23 For This Year’s International Day of Peace, Korea Takes the Lead

09.22 Which nation is 'most generous' to refugees? Certainly not the US

09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [After 10,000 generations, we are all mixed-race. So let's become friends with our cousins instead!]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Some Federal Workers Can't Afford Their ''Model'' Health Care Plan
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Some Federal Workers Can’t Afford Their “Model” Health Care Plan

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation on 30 September 2009

Like all private insurance, the FEHB’s offerings are so expensive that about 100,000 federal workers don’t participate because they can’t even afford their share of the premiums, which average about 30 percent of the total cost.

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has driven a stake through the public option, there’s likely to be renewed talk about the Federal Employees Health Benefits program (FEHB). Throughout the contentious health care debate, the federal workers health plan has been often hailed as the model everyone can live with. It’s even been described by some as the basis for an alternative “public option,” under which the unisured could either buy into the FEHB or, more likely, into a program modeled on it. Members of Congress just love to talk about offering Americans the “same health care” they themselves enjoy, and Obama has said much the same thing.

Too bad there really isn’t anything public at all about the FEHB, as I (and others) have written before. It’s simply a system that allows federal workers to sort through dozens of different private insurance plans, and pick one they want. (This supposed model for a public option doesn’t even include a public option itself.) Their employer, the government, then picks up the majority of the cost of the premiums, with the workers paying the rest. They have a wide range of choices among private plans and access to group rates, which is better than what a lot of Americans have. But like all private insurance, the FEHB’s offerings are expensive–so expensive that about 100,000 federal workers don’t participate because they can’t even afford their share of the premiums, which average about 30 percent of the total cost.

Now the FEHB’s premiums–like everyone else’s–are getting a lot more expensive. As Joe Davidson reports today in the Washington Post:

Federal government employees can expect a big jump in their health-care costs in 2010, officials said Tuesday.

Employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will pay an average 8.8 percent more in health-care costs, according to figures released by the Office of Personnel Management....The increase compares with a 7.9 percent jump in 2009 and a 2.9 percent increase in 2008, according to the OPM.

The rates for FEHB Blue Cross Blue Shield, a popular choice because of its comprehensive coverage and wide choice of providers, will increase far more–15 percent for individuals, and 12 percent for families.

These rate hikes will likely present no problem for members of Congress, who earn $174,000 a year (and have expense accounts). But Davidson cites responses from unions representing rank-and-file federal workers:

“This is an enormous increase that erodes federal employees’ standard of living,” Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement. “Affordable health care is essential in attracting and retaining a stable, high-quality workforce.”

The American Federation of Government Employees expressed “grave concern” at the news. “FEHBP is getting more and more unaffordable for more people,” said Jacqueline Simon, AFGE public policy director.

Most telling of all is the statement given to reporters by Nancy Kichak, an associate director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: “An 8.8 percent increase is not an increase that we feel comfortable with,” Kichak said. “It’s not one that we would like to see our enrollees bear, but unfortunately we’re a victim of the market.”

A “victim of the market.” Sounds like the same thing that’s wrong with the whole U.S. health care system (with the exception of original Medicare, which Congress could look to as a model for a public option, if only they had the political will).

But as we know, in the market there are always winners as well as losers: Witness the jump in health insurance company stocks on Tuesday afternoon, following the Finance Committee’s defeat of two proposed public option amendments.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on October 2, 2009.
 

Public Service Ads: