January 16, 2009

The Benefit of a Word

Justin Katz

It's may be a small thing, but it always bothers me when the word "benefit" is used to describe welfare-type payments and services, as in:

"This is to make the system better," [Governor Carcieri] said yesterday, noting that nursing home residents could more easily use Medicaid funds to live with family or friends under the new plan. But when asked about a separate proposal to limit the "benefit package" for thousands of low-income health-care recipients, Carcieri referred questions to a department head.

The connotation of one's "benefit package" at work seems to me to be that it is an extra benefit of doing something — namely, helping to move the company forward. In the case of insurance (not necessarily of the healthcare kind), one receives "benefits" for having invested in the plan.

If language matters, and I believe that it does, we ought to come up with a new term for receiving public largess, taken under penalty of legal repercussions, based purely on perceived need. Maybe "graft."

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If language matters, and I believe that it does, we ought to come up with a new term for receiving public largess, taken under penalty of legal repercussions, based purely on perceived need. Maybe "graft."

If you are talking about Walmart and other corporate entities that use govt assistance to underpay and not insure, then I will agree with you. It is definitely a benefit to Walmart to have a state govt picking up the slack for their workforce and it is a benefit(in the short run) to you, Justin the consumer.

Posted by: David at January 16, 2009 7:12 PM

Thank you, David, for illustrating the next step in thought degradation following the poorly chosen usage of "benefit." You understand healthcare "benefits" — even from an employer — to be an entitlement.

I say get employers out of the healthcare business altogether (unless, obviously, it's their industry). Pay will go up; prices will go down; and we'll get rid of this particular source of intellectual confusion.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 16, 2009 7:17 PM

At your service. And we agree. It is time to move beyond employer provided health insurance, that began as a voluntary benefit that was relatively inexpensive. The major problem is the huge price increase in this benefit. Employers view a jump in health insurance costs as a employee raise while attempts to impose copays a pay cut in the eyes of employees. You at AR are always on the employer's side of the scrum at the lowest levels of the food chain. Anti-union and anti-labor. But whether the employer or the employee is paying the cost, do you ever consider or wonder why health insurance costs have risen so steeply? Who benefits? Health care providers? Insurance companies? Some one is making a pile of cash and my bet is they will fight tooth and nail to keep their piece of the pie. In between bites they we cheer you on in your pedestrian struggles in Tiverton and East Providence against the forces of evil.

Posted by: David at January 16, 2009 8:49 PM


One of the big reasons healthcare is so expensive is due to the fact that our Pubic Employees pay so little, and in fact, many pay nothing.

As a result, we have a whole swath of consumers that are indifferent to the cost of healthcare. They could (health)CARE less about the cost and in fact have no clue what it costs.

Thus the natural economic forces of supply & demand are fouled up.

If the leeches start paying their fair share, that is, if they have some "skin in the game", perhaps we will then have consumers with a vested interest that can help provide the counterbalance needed versus the suppliers.

It's not rocket science and it is not unfair to expect Union hacks to pay their fair share of THEIR healthcare.

The best answer is to provide all Union members with a one time salary increase of X and let them go procure their own healthcare (or alternatively, they could put the money in their pocket).

The state would then be out of the business of supplying healthcare and the Union hacks would quickly have an appreciation for the real cost of healthcare, thus becoming judicious consumers.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 17, 2009 8:34 AM

Justin is right about the fact that wages are held down and workers work in low paying jobs simply for company healthcare insurance. Indivuals do not fare well when buying insurance. There are many that would "benefit" by a universal health care system including most workers, small businesses and the self employed.

Posted by: Phil at January 17, 2009 8:58 AM

The government through Medicare / Medicaid / RIteCare and statutory mandates already runs a big chunk of, if not most of, our health care system.

It is well known that through "cost shifting" the government under-compensates providers and the difference is made up on the private side. A stealth tax.

And then there is the cost of providing care to millions of illegal aliens.

That and the Democrats' fealty to the trial lawyers and their campaign cash is why health care costs are skyrocketing.

We had the employer based system from the 1940's through the mid-1960's (advent of Medicare / Medicaid) and we didn't have these problems.

Add in lawyer advertising starting to be allowed in the 1970's and the ambulance chasers were off to the races.

"Single payer" healthcare will only bring us into a life-threatening version of what we have today with "public education." Run by and for the unions, with ever-increasing costs and ever-declining quality. And well-off Democrats able to afford the small, superior private alternative for themselves and their children.

Posted by: Tom W at January 17, 2009 3:40 PM
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