As a result of my involvement with the passage of HB 1660 here in Pennsylvania, I
have learned many things.
The burden that the health insurance companies place on employers is one of them.
The fact that in five years, if Single Payer is not enacted, employees will have to foot
the bill for their own health care coverage, is another.
At last weeks Single Payer, Guaranteed Health Care For All Forum, Alan Jacobs,
President of Isaac's Deli, Inc here in the Lancaster, PA area, gave all of us an idea of
what it is like for him and other business owners to insure their employees.
Here is the transcript of his talk:
I am Alan Jacobs, President of Isaac's Restaurant & Deli. We are a local employer
with 20 restaurants and about about 650 employees. We have about 200 people on our
As a business person, I could talk about the economic advantages of a single payer
system, but that's not my elevator speech about healthcare.
Here it is.
At Isaac's, we play the insurance game quite well. We offer health insurance for
anyone working 25 hours a week, and that's helped us to retain a very loyal
So I'm an employer being successful in the current system, but I think the system
The way I see it, I am the ultimate health insurance consumer in our system. I buy
insurance every year, and the insurance companies work hard to give me a product
that I can afford and will buy. They try to keep my premiums low, which they do by
trying to avoid paying medical bills. (It's like auto insurance: if you wreck your car,
your rates go up).
So their job is to deny and delay paying medical bills as much as possible, which they
think they are doing on my behalf, because they are keeping my rates low.
As a business, I buy several kinds of insurance - Medical, liability, workers comp, and
auto. Each one of those insurances has a medical component, and each one wants to
keep my cost low by not paying claims. Sometimes the companies fight with each
other to get the other to take on the cost. They each think they are doing me a favor,
but I foot the bill for their dispute, and in the meantime, my employee can't get claims
From a health care perspective, it sure seems like the incentives are upside down. __
This is not a partisan issue, but when I heard John McCain say he doesn't want any
bureaucrat making decisions about our health care, I'm afraid he's a little late to the
Your employer - me - is bureaucrat #1. Every year, I make decisions for my
employees about how much their out of pocket expenses will be, and how much their
deductible will be, and what we will or won't pay for.
Every couple of years when we change plans we give our employees a new lists of
doctors that are on our plan. If they are lucky, their doctor is on our list.
If not, too bad.
We also review drug use, and each year we give our employees something called a
formulary. That's a list of drugs that we will pay for. If their drug is on the list, they're
If not, too bad.
My insurance company is bureaucrat # 2. They delay payments, deny payments, and
get my employees all tangled up in paperwork so they can avoid payments in a
particular year. If my insurance company can find a loophole so they don't need to pay
a claim, that's good for them, and they think that's good for me.
They are selling me a product, and they are trying to keep it affordable.
This might be all be well and good if the so called free market system was actually
working to keep costs down. However, on a global scale, we as a country spend twice
as much per person on healthcare, and our health outcomes are actually worse. If I
had an employee who came to me with the results of his brilliant cost savings plan,
and his conclusion was that it's costing twice what our competitors pay, and it's
making it difficult for us to provide goods and services to our customers, but his
conclusion is that we need to keep at it because it's the only plan that will work; I
would tell him to hit the trail.
But I probably wouldn't fire him outright, maybe just demote him, because, he has a
family, and he gets his health coverage from us.
Which brings me to my final point. When an employee gets sick and misses work,
they go through the drawn out process of losing their job because they can't work
because they are sick, and they eventually lose their eligibility and loose their
This is a horrible occurrence.
When a person needs insurance the most, they lose it. This is the final brutality caused
by linking health care to employment.
So that's why I'm here tonight, lending my voice to this movement.
I presently am listening to the first debate between Barak Obama and John McCain.
Even as I ignore the smirk on McCain's face, I know that McCain's health care plan is:
Just Don't Get Sick.
As the Reverend Sandra Straus emphasized in her talk last week, a true Christian
would be taking care of everyone.
And people like John McCain and his running mate pose as Christians but the
question is: Who are they, really?
Do they know who Jesus was/is? He was a real rebel, one of the first Community
Organizers, a man whose ministry was one of love, compassion and non-violence.
A true Christian would never go to war and would love their enemies.
And would uphold the right of healthcare to all of her citizens.