Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Unions Predominate Among Health Plan Exemptions

It's time for me to get angry.  I am slow to anger and rich in kindness, just like the fictional deity of the Western world's solar cult.  This news item warrants a much speedier escalation from my normal laconic state into blood-boiling rage.

Last year's national health care act force-fed a whole new slew of regulations to health care providers and burdened employers with a whole new set of taxes.  Federal courts are taking a harsh look at the law's mandates.  The law's loopholes allowing escapes for favored players deserve similar harsh looks. 

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is one of those agencies Americans could probably live without and not miss.  While it exists, it needs to occupy its time somehow.  It does so by granting exemptions from mandated health coverage to health plan sponsors who have that "something special" going on.  Here's the official list of those very special plan sponsors.  A quick scan reveals a predominance of unions and other non-profit groups, along with a few private corporations and municipal government agencies. 

It would be far too generous of me to suggest that the union exemptions were granted to ensure the widest possible coverage for employees under multi-employer plans.  The federal government is now the largest employer of union labor and thus has much more power to wring costs out of health plans through periodic regnegotiations.  These union exemptions are more likely than not a simple political payoff to a favored constituency.   

High mandates paid by productive taxpayers and their employers will cost much more than these mini-med plans benefiting union workers until 2014.  These union workers receive more pay for less work than the more productive taxpayers who must pay through the nose for comparable coverage.  That's the kind of thing that makes me mad.  It's the patent unfairness of it all. 

Excuse me while I go kick some holes in the nearest wall.