Current Weather
The Spy FM

Rising Health Costs Lead Companies To Drop Part-Time Benefits

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
November 2, 2011

Wal-Mart’s recent decision to cut benefits for new, part-time employees may be part of a trend, as companies grapple with higher health costs.

That’s the view of John Rother, the new president of the nonpartisan National Coalition on Health Care, who chatted with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel about the country’s growing pack of part-time workers and why companies are rolling back their benefits.

“We’re seeing health costs becoming a larger and larger expense item for companies,” Rother told Siegel. And that poses a particular problem for firms “engaged in international trade, where they’re competing against companies that do not have to bear that expense.”

“Because they’re in countries where the government probably bears that expense,” Siegel said.

“Exactly, which is mostly all other countries,” Rother said.

With full health coverage costing about $15,000 a year for a family, it’s not economic for many employers to cover their part-time employees, he said. And there’s no government provision requiring employers to pay a penalty if they don’t.

Rother blamed the fee-for-service model for the spike in health costs. “[It] encourages more and more care even when it’s not necessary or even sometimes when it’s not productive,” he said.

Many employers are feeling overwhelmed, according to Rother. Costs went up about 9 percent last year, and in these times revenues often don’t keep up. Employees didn’t see a 9 percent pay increase either.

“Health costs are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of both take-home pay and the employers’ cash flow,” he said.

So what are the options for part-time workers without insurance?

“I don’t mean to be flip, but your best option would be to marry somebody who has good health coverage,” he said. “Because if you don’t, there are very few options. Under the Health Reform Act, you will be able to get affordable coverage, but that’s not until 2014.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

3PM to 6PM All Things Considered

All Things Considered

For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.

Listen Live Now!

6PM to 6:30PM Marketplace

Marketplace

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, award-winning Marketplace is public radio's daily magazine of business and economics.

View the program guide!

6:30PM to 7PM All Things Considered

All Things Considered

For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered hosts Robert Siegel, Michele Norris and Melissa Block present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center