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Gloom and Doom in U.S. Workers

September 7, 2014

A recent report from Rutgers University entitled “Unhappy, Worried, and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession” found that 70% of respondents described the typical American worker as not secure in their jobs and 68% of workers are highly stressed. A quote from the study is, “The typical American worker lives in a precarious and doleful existence — unhappy, poorly paid and fearful about losing his or her job, according to the opinions of fellow Americans responded to the survey.”

Another study from the Urban Institute, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey, which asked people with employer-based insurance coverage if they liked what they had, found that most people are happy with their choice of doctors and the ability to get ologist care. But only half were satisfied with the premium paid for coverage, the co-pays paid when receiving care, and the deductible paid when receiving care.

Yet another report from the New York Times talks about the movement of non-healthcare industry employers towards very high deductible health plans. Next year, according to a study by the National Business Group on Health, about a third large employers will offer only high deductible plans, which is up from 10% in 2010. The newspaper article tells stories of patients who skipped care because of high deductibles for office visits and tests. Another study from Kaiser in 2013 found that the average high-deductible plan for a family was over $4000. Some of the less expensive ACA insurance products have deductibles as high as $10,000.

All of these concepts are connected. And they’re all driven by the high cost of healthcare in this country. When companies have to pay increasingly high costs for health insurance, which continues to rise above the general inflation rate and overall growth of the economy, and is predicted to inflate even faster over the next 10 years than during the recession era, the money has to come from somewhere. It’s coming out of workers pockets in the form of wage stagnation, fewer jobs, higher costs for insurance premiums, and extremely high deductibles and co-pays.

So the next time you’re swayed into buying a pink ribbon, or run a 5K to raise money or awareness for a single disease, or watch the Stand Up to Cancer show on TV, realize that you’ve just contributed to the increasing cost of healthcare in this country. And eventually, it came out of your paycheck in more ways than just the donation, assuming you have a job.

The high cost of healthcare is stressing all of us and worsening the quality of our lives. It’s just hidden several layers deep in W-2s and insurance company brochures. If this all makes sense to you, tell a friend at work, and start fighting against the excesses of the U.S. healthcare industry. You’ll feel better when you do, and it might even save your job and your children’s future.

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2 Responses to Gloom and Doom in U.S. Workers

  1. dwin on November 5, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I would love to hear your suggestions on real ways to fight back per your quote below …

    “If this all makes sense to you, tell a friend at work, and start fighting against the excesses of the U.S. healthcare industry. You’ll feel better when you do, and it might even save your job and your children’s future.”

    • Richard Young MD on November 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm


      Great question. I have no delusions about how hard a task this is. I propose 2 approaches. First, talk to your fellow employees about the reality that, in the end, their health care costs are not paid by some distant health insurance company. Your employer expends two big pots of money on your behalf: one goes to you as income, the other is paid as benefits. Every dollar that gets sucked into the healthcare industry is a dollar that cannot go into your pocket as income. The insurance companies are just the money pipelines. Here is a paper I published on this topic: target=”_blank”>https://www.stfm.org/FamilyMedicine/Vol44Issue9/Young633. Until the front line employees are willing to take the risk to seriously disrupt the healthcare system they’ve known by pushing back against the excesses of the healthcare industry, no major significant improvements can occur.

      Second, if you know the CFO or CEO, talk to them about the issue. We have found that the HR people don’t have the personalities or often the support of the CEOs to drive disruptive change.

      There, that should be easy!!

      Let me know if you’d like to have a longer conversation about this.
      Richard Young, MD

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