Healthcare in America

HEALTHCARE IN AMERICA….Nathan Newman has a post today about the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on healthcare coverage. In the past ten years, the number of workers receiving healthcare coverage from their employers has plummeted from 63% to 45%.

That’s a big drop, and I think it’s a symptom of the fact that employer-provided healthcare coverage, an odd historical anomaly of the postwar 50s, isn’t going to survive much longer. Employers are simply getting less willing to provide it, and we’re reaching the point where a critical mass of people is going to start demanding that something be done. Relying on free clinics and emergency rooms is a fantastically inefficient way of providing healthcare to the poor (and, increasingly, the lower middle class), and I think the system is likely to break down completely in the next decade or two.

(Side note: when you hear about income inequality statistics, keep in mind that they usually include only cash compensation. The fact that the poor have no medical coverage actually makes income inequality in America even worse than it seems at first glance.)

And here’s one more statistic from the BLS report: only 22% of people in service occupations get healthcare coverage from their employers, and only 35% of those who make less than $30,000 a year get it. Those are scary numbers if you happen to be in one of those groups.