Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Percent: Day Fourteen: Does the number 1,115 mean anything to you?

Click here for an explanation of this series of posts.

I got an email from the White House yesterday -- that's how important I am: I am able to be on a list of people getting spammed by the White House -- introducing a "health insurance by the numbers" campaign. The number of the day was that number above, 1,115.

$1,115 is the average monthly premium for employer-sponsored family coverage. That is, if you get your health insurance through your job, on average, you and your company pay (between you) $1,115 per month for your coverage.

Now, as you consider that number, consider two questions:

1. Have you received $13,000 worth of medical coverage in the past year? How many times have you gone to the doctor... period, in the last year? In the last five? Over five years, your premiums were $65,000. That doesn't count deductibles. If you're not using the coverage, why is it so high?

2. What else could you do with $13,000 per year, or even a big chunk of it? If you didn't get a raise this year, or last year, it might be because your employer has to pay $13,000 to an insurance company for care you're not using.

One reason premiums are so high is insanely high compensation for health insurance CEOs. But another reason is uninsured people costing the system a lot of money, so that hospitals have to make up the difference by charging you. So getting universal health coverage spreads the cost, reducing your share, and putting some of that $1,115 per month back in your pocket.

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