When Healthcare is Too Expensive for Healthcare Workers Something is Wrong

A cynical joke often made at the expense of expensive handbags is that the folks stitching those bags together for wealthy socialites to carry tiny dogs in probably couldn’t afford the bag or the dog on the wages they’re paid.

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“More than 700 union workers went on strike in Olympia, Washington, to protest [Providence Health & Services'] unilateral decision while at the bargaining table to switch employees from an affordable health care plan to a high-deductible plan. These workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital — which include everyone but the doctors, registered nurses and social workers — and the Providence SoundHomeCare and Hospice earn an average of $31,000 annually.”

That’s the beginning of a piece on Bill Moyers’s — yes, that Bill Moyers — site: When Hospital Workers Can’t Afford Health Care.

It comes from The Nation, and it details the challenges even healthcare workers have getting healthcare.

Workers’ deductibles increased on January 1 from $750 to $3,000 for family coverage, with higher co-pays as well.

Greg Kaufmann, the writer of the piece, details the economic disparity that seems to undercut this decision: “The problem isn’t that Providence is lacking in resources: the company reported $286 million in profits in 2011, and the CEO’s compensation rose from $3.1 million in 2010 to $6.4 million in 2011; the senior VP and chief administration officer’s pay rose from $1.5 million to $3.3 million; and the executive VP, western Washington region, saw his pay increase from $2.4 million to $3.5 million.”

You know who isn’t providing healthcare? The CEO of the hospital. He’s facilitating it, sure, by running a hospital that employs skilled people. But he’s not down there inserting catheters or dispensing pain meds. I’m not suggesting he’s not worth the extra $3.5 million; but maybe he’s not worth that at the expense of higher healthcare costs for the people in the trenches, so to speak.

Add this to the list of issues not generally acknowledged, but deeply effecting, the ways in which healthcare is broken in this country.

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