The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Dumping more medical bills on us

Jan 7, 2002

Everything we read would have us believe that employers are suffering and can’t afford to pay our health care.

An annual survey of 2800 employers projected an average rise of 13% in health care costs in 2002. This is after an 11% jump in 2001, and 8% in 2000.

The employers blame it on rising costs of drugs, hospital care, and doctors’ fees.

So they intend to make the workers pay. Higher co-pays, higher deductibles, higher premiums, for workers with some kind of company health plan. For workers without a plan – just pay more. Period. Or go without care.

Ford Motor Company, for instance, recently hit their salaried workers with increases on health-care premiums and drug co-pays. Even retirees who were salaried will have to start paying part of their premiums, this June.

Also, a recent teachers’ strike in New Jersey was largely against a proposal to raise their annual flat fee from $250 to $600 a year, on top of the other $1400 deductible they pay before their insurance covers anything at all.

The examples go on and on. The bosses play copy-cat. All of them claim they are nearly broke. All of them say there’s no choice but for workers to tighten our belts even more.

But they lie. When they have something they want to do, some merger they want to make, some executive bonuses they want to give, they always find money. The money is there.

In the health care game, like so many other things, the capitalists are simply seeing what they can get away with. If the drug companies can jack up their prices and profits, and no one opposes them, then they will do it.

If the auto and steel companies can protect their profits by passing along all of these increases – and more work on us besides! – then they’ll do it.

When a one-cent aspirin costs you a dollar in the hospital, you know that the actual costs of health care are not the problem. All of the companies using health care as an excuse to pick our pockets – there’s the real problem!