October 14, 1999
Council: Growing government
role in health care threatens workers' coverage;
More taxes, regulations, litigation may give workers greater burden for health
More government-driven approaches to health-care issues will erode the nation's tradition of workplace-based health insurance, leading employers to pass more health-care decisions and costs directly to workers, The Council's expert in health policy said in a speech Oct. 12.
"If government continues to expand health-care taxes, regulations, mandates, and opportunities for litigation, fewer New Yorkers will get traditional work-based health benefits," said Elliott Shaw.
Shaw discussed health policy issues at the 1999 New York State Managed Care Conference in Albany before more than 500 professionals from managed-care organizations, hospitals, state agencies, and legislative staff.
Workplace-based health care, which employers devised to give the highest number of individuals basic health-insurance, has been eroded by such government initiatives as taxes on health insurance, insurance mandates, and proposals to improve already generous Medicaid coverage.
While such actions enrich coverage of those with insurance, they make insurance even less affordable for the uninsured, Shaw noted.
"If the trend continues, employers may move away from offering traditional health benefits and toward offering a defined contribution toward health care, and workers will be obliged to buy their own health insurance," Shaw said.
"Then individual workers may get a shock as they feel, for the first time, how these policies increase both their health-care costs and the ranks of the uninsured," he added.
Shaw's speech came a week after a coalition led by hospital interests launched an ad campaign designed in part to pressure lawmakers into keeping New York's unique $1.3 billion tax on health insurance, paid mostly by employers. At a news conference, one hospital workers' union official said the campaign could include attacks on business groups opposed to the coalition's agenda.