Lifetime limits on health insurance? How about lifetime limits on CEO pay?

It’s funny, every time I suggest tying CEO pay of publicly owned companies to the average U.S. worker’s wage of the company- with a ratio of 40-1, I get scolded by the right wingers and the libertarians who read this site. Yet, it’s not their money; it’s the shareholders’ money they are paying themselves with, and other than winning a pissing contest on who can rob their companies of the most cash.

I’ve also proposed that the federal government stops doing business with companies that pay their CEOs excessive amounts. Again, I was chastised.

So, can anyone tell me how you can pay for health insurance, and then when you have a medical disaster, how the insurance company can get away with having “Lifetime Limits” on coverage? All while the CEO of the same insurance company has no problem taking home a $144 million a year paycheck? How about a lifetime limit on his compensation to match his insurance policies?

From today’s DDN is the story of a kid with brain tumors who has to count on his school to raise money to keep him alive- despite having health insurance:

It’s reassuring to know they can count on their church and community when there’s so much uncertainty. The Neals are not sure, for instance, about the meaning of the $2.2 million lifetime limit for their Anthem/Blue Cross coverage. “If we pass the $2 million mark, does that mean they never cover anything again?” Jason asked. “Even if you were a millionaire, you’d be broke.”

via Fundraising key to cost of staying alive.

There’s a bumper sticker a neighbor used to have: “I want to see the day when schools are all well-funded and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” – or something slightly shorter.

I’ve got another friend who has said that the real movement for change in this country should be guided by one word, “Fairness,” and not by political ideologies of the left, right or weird. If everything were fair, we wouldn’t have kids selling cookies to keep their classmate alive.

Universal health care can’t be as bad as this sad story. The key is to take the insurance companies out of health care altogether and actually put the money into making people healthy- not making the CEOs of these companies rich.

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7 Responses

  1. John Ise June 4, 2012 / 1:44 pm
    That story is so very friggin’ tragic.  These “lifetime limits” seem designed for one purpose, to protect private insurers bottom line.  Unfortunately the scenario for this family will probably play out so that they hit their insurance limits, they they in turn burn through their savings to the extent it impoverishes them.  Then they qualify for Medicaid, for consistnent care for their son. 

    There but for the grace of God go I. 

  2. larry sizer June 4, 2012 / 1:46 pm
    Right on David:
    I could not agree with more, though I would have enjoyed it more if you would have thrown in the pharmaceutical companies and how they rip off the human race. Like I told you the other day, my wife who has taken Prograf for the last eight years, as an anti rejection drug from a liver transplant, elected to take an generic drug Tacrolimus, only to find out that the generic cost more than the brand name drug. Stop the world, I want to get off…
  3. Dan June 4, 2012 / 2:48 pm
    I really don’t get the libertarian / right wing view on this. I get that you want less government control… I do, I get that. But seriously, government isn’t going away, so can we at least let them do some good? I don’t see how anyone in good consciousness can thumbs down thoughts like the ones above… Please… one of you, justify lifetime limits.
  4. David Lauri June 4, 2012 / 5:59 pm
    I thought President Obama’s healthcare reform did away with lifetime limits on health insurance.  This page on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, “Under The Affordable Care Act, 105 Million Americans No Longer Face Lifetime Limits on Health Benefits,” dated March 2012, says:

    The Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from imposing a lifetime dollar limit on most benefits received by Americans in any health plan renewing on or after September 23, 2010. … Overall, we estimated that 70 million persons in large employer plans, 25 million persons in small employer plans, and 10 million persons with individually purchased health insurance had lifetime limits on their health benefits prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  These 105 million Americans now enjoy improved coverage without lifetime limits.

  5. Diane June 5, 2012 / 8:19 am
    Just to clarify – the DDN article doesn’t say anything about the family bumping up against lifetime limits but rather that they are fundraising to meet their out-of-pocket expenses. This could refer to travel and lodging expenses, childcare, insurance deductibles, co-pays, lost wages if the dad has to miss work, etc.

    Big bucks, no doubt, but these expenses would not be covered by any health insurance policy that I am aware of.

  6. John Ise June 7, 2012 / 11:10 am
    From Holly Sklar’s Raise the Floor (bit dated):

    Worker productivity went up, but wages went down. Productivity grew 74.2 percent between 1968 and 2000, but hourly wages for average workers fell 3 percent, adjusting for inflation. Real wages for minimum wage workers fell 35 percent. If wages had kept pace with rising productivity since 1968, the average hourly wage would have been $24.56 in 2000, rather than $13.74. The minimum wage would have been $13.80 in 2000—not $5.15—if it had kept pace with productivity. That’s a difference of nearly $18,000 for a full-time year-round worker.
    The CEO-average worker wage gap has grown ten times wider over the last two decades. In 1980, CEOs made 45 times the pay of average production and nonsupervisory workers. In 2000, CEOs made 458 times as much. The gap between CEOs and minimum wage workers has become a grand canyon. In 1980, the average CEO made as much as 97 minimum wage workers. In 2000, they made as much as 1,223 minimum wage workers.
    The minimum wage, adjusting for inflation since the 1968 peak year, would be:
    ·         $13.80 if it had kept pace with worker productivity;
    ·         $13.02 if had kept pace with domestic profits;
    ·         $20.46 if it had kept pace with profits in the disproportionately low-wage retail industry.
     

  7. truth June 9, 2012 / 8:47 pm
    I am not picking sides here, just throwing out some food for thought….

    Productivity isn’t in line with wages and nor should it be at all times.  There is a difference betwween productivity and efficiency.  If technology has made a certain workforce more productive, it shouldn’t always be reflected in wages as employees are many times doing less work, or rearranging work, to become more efficent and “do more with less”.

    Limits on health insurance is BS.  WTF is the point of having insurance to begin with if you have a high cost illness?  There isn’t.  Go to the ER and file bankruptcy to solve the problem?  I am not advocating it, but that is the situation insurance companies create.  My employer has had more claims than premiums paid for the last two years running du eto a couple very serious claims…and this is a rather large employer.  All with obvious increases to the yearly premiums.  However, the prior 5 years to that, the insurance company made over 27% each year off of us as we didin’t exhaust our premium.  Funny how the business works as we sure as hell didn’t see a reduction.

    If a publicly traded CEO makes copious amounts of money and it pisses people off, then the shareholders that have an issue shouldn’t buy stock in the company.  Those complaining aren’t the ones that are making money off of that CEO’s ability to make them money on their shares.  If Jobs made me six figures on the development of Apple, I couldn’t care less on how much he makes.

    I do have a problem with non-profits making the money they make and sitting in the loopholes of tax laws.  There is a difference between a non-profit and Apple, Google, or Facebook.  They need to be treated as such.  Kind of like a  county Sheriff is paid based on population served or postmasters paid based on the amount of mail going through their building.  No perfect way to fix it, but the hospital/healthcare issues are a mess and the amount of money being thrown around is silly and putting citizens out of business.  Please tell me why a nurse with a Bachelors is making over 80k and working a part time schedule?  Something is wrong there.  I am not knocking the profession, but the amount of money wasted is through the roof. 

    I learned a ton when I went to an HSA with Anthem.  Isn’t it lovely how I can pay “negotiated” rates for procedures, but if I still had an HMO/PPO plan the same damn thing would be almost twice as much?  That is a perfect example of the waste.  There are ways to solve the problem that are bipartisan.  I just don’t see it happening until some people with common sense are in office.

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