Letters: Regressive Health Insurance Costs

October 15, 2006

I work at a big hospital. As our contract comes up, health insurance is a major issue.

We pay $300/month for family insurance. This adds up to almost $2/hour or 15% of our wages which average $13-$14/hour. In addition we have copayments for doctor's visit, prescription drugs, hospital stays, etc.

Here we are providing health care for hundreds of thousands of people, yet many of us cannot afford health insurance at all.

The hospital, like the capitalists everywhere, keeps crying that "health costs are going up." But, in our case, the hospital itself provides the care. And our wages sure don't account for the ever-rising premiums.

Recently we found out that the supervisors, doctors and administrators are enrolled in the same health plan and pay the same copremiums and copays as we do.

This is the same as a regressive tax system. While copremiums equal 15% of our pay, a supervisor making over $100,000/year pays only 3.5% of his salary. A millionaire doctor or administrator is paying virtually nothing. For them a $300/month premium is less than an evening out. For us, it equals groceries for a month.

We are demanding that health insurance premiums amount to no more than 5% of salary. This would dramatically lower our premiums. We see this as a step in the direction of winning comprehensive health coverage paid 100% by the company.

Why should we pay the freight for the bosses and subsidize their health insurance?