Kidney stones and employer-based health insurance suck.

Warren-Joins-Striking-Teachers-640x427
Elizabeth Warren and Randi Weingarten in Chicago to support teachers and staff on strike. One supports national health care. One doesn’t.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has been in town supporting the CTU and SEIU strikers.

One of the issues of bargaining is the cost of health insurance to CPS employees.

The thing about employer-based insurance is that it is always an issue of bargaining, which always makes it tenuous as a benefit. Benefits are always a problematic part of compensation. It is easier to take away a benefit than take away direct compensation and it is always a target for “cost savings.”

But for some odd reason, the AFT president argues against national health care or Medicare for All and for a continuation of a two-tier health insurance system.

She prefers a system where the cost of health care must be renegotiated every time there is bargaining and it rarely ends well for the employee.

My friend Jonathan, a NYC UFT teacher, blogs about his experience with his union-bargained health insurance.

The other night Jonathan got hit with a painful kidney stone that sent him to the ER.

  Discharge. Turns out, I have a copay. I knew it. If they admit you, the copay is waived. If they don’t, the copay’s a buck fifty. Why should NOT having surgery cost over one hundred dollars?

This is a “health care cost savings” agreed to by my union. The high ER copay supposedly is to discourage frivolous use. But you read my story. What was frivolous? Could TelMed have visualized the stone, or the build-up in the kidney? Where else could I have gone to get my abdomen examined? To rule out appendicitis? Should I have gone to Urgent Care (only $50, I think) to have my vitals taken? I almost passed out from pain. Saturday night. Could I have waited until Monday to call my regular doctor?

I only thought for one second about the copay. How about a beginning teacher, with debt? Is the copay high enough to discourage someone at the bottom of our pay scale from making a medically necessary trip to the Emergency Room?

How about we stop calling health care concessions “cost saving changes” and start calling them “life threatening changes”? And then how about we stop making them.

Whether or not to preserve privatized health insurance is a big issue in the current Democratic primary debate.

Randi Weingarten comes down squarely on the side of a two-tier health insurance system with Medicare for All being for the poor and the floor, as she herself describes it.

She is wrong.

 

 

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