IBM has announced that it plans to move about 110,000 retirees off its company health insurance plan and offer a payment to purchase coverage on a private health insurance exchange instead.
The Wall Street Journal said early Saturday that the move is “a sign that even big, well-capitalized employers aren’t likely to keep providing the once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise.”
According to the WSJ, the decision will affect all IBM retirees once they become eligible for Medicare and will relieve the company of the responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits. IBM said the growing cost of care has made its current system of keeping retirees on its company health care insurance unsustainable without large increases in premiums.
Let me offer a surprising plug for France’s health care system. As I mentioned recently, we were in France and Switzerland for about 2 1/2 weeks recently. My wife went to the emergency room in Paris on our first full day there, because we were concerned she might have gotten deep vein thrombosis on the long plane flight from New York. (Our son had fallen asleep on her early in the flight, and she had not wanted to move and wake him up, so she never walked around on the flight at all. She had some symptoms consistent with DVT, but it turned out she didn’t have it, and she’s just fine now.)
We were at the hospital for a good part of the day, but that is comparable to experiences I have had here in the States. The doctors were pleasant and seemed quite competent. They performed blood tests and an ultrasound to ensure that there was no clot in Mrs. P’s body. They told us they would send us a bill that we would receive in the U.S.
We got the bill the other day. It was for 180 Euros (about $237).
You could spend that much on orange juice at a U.S. hospital.
While in the waiting room, I talked to a nice lady from the Bay Area of California who gravitated towards another English speaker. She had grown up in France and had several relatives in the country, and she said that when she would tell her French relatives about the cost of a particular visit here in the States, they would laugh at the absurd amount. She told me about an emergency room visit she had made in France 3-5 years earlier, and said that several medical tests had been run. Her eventual bill was 80 Euros.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay their taxes. But they have costs under control in a way we can only dream of.
I honestly don’t think ObamaCare is the answer to our woes. But when someone else does something different and it’s working, it’s worth taking a look at. I don’t know if France’s system is better than ours, and I encourage folks to debate that in the comments. But they certainly seem to have improved on our system when it comes to costs.
My goal in this post was to rile y’all up. Did it work?