The question in the heading for this item, remember when companies offered health insurance, is one people just starting their work lives will be asking in a few years.
A recent announcement by Walgreens that it was discontinuing its company-paid health insurance and substituting flat payments to workers so they could find their own insurance is among the first of many.
Employers will run away from paying your health insurance costs like lemmings jumping off a cliff, believe me. The same pattern we saw with retirement plans, i.e. company-funded, guaranteed payout retirement plans giving way to people having to fend for themselves in 401Ks and IRAs, will repeat itself in health insurance.
Obamacare is giving companies cover to make this change. Mandated insurance exchanges will make it seem like people have endless choices to find their own insurance. And for a while they will. Prices might even drop thanks to new competition. But eventually market dynamics will come into play, unprofitable carriers will drop out of various markets and most people will be lucky to have more than two choices.
So what should you be doing? If you have two new job offers and one includes company-paid, even partially paid, health insurance, grab it. If you must use a new exchange, and you find some initially low premiums, save as much as you can of what your premium might have been otherwise. You’ll need that money down the road for higher premiums.
The coming changes in health insurance are just another step backwards from all the benefits American workers earned in better times.
John N. Frank