Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sometimes a little perspective helps.

I'm not a big fan of most politicians, but I worry about the source of this article, whose author is disgusted with a plan put forth by President Obama to raise healthcare premiums for military members, but not union members. I think the writer is being deliberately dishonest. The government (i.e. our tax dollars) currently pay military benefits, while the government does NOT pay union worker benefits. Thus any president would not be able to cut or raise union worker benefits. Further, any president cannot, without congresses approval cut or raise benefits for military members.

First, they are referring to premiums, and not actual benefits.

Second, the numbers they quote for a retired army colonel with a family (who presumably makes more than lower officers), is that this person is paying "$460 a year for health care (and) will pay $2,048" after the raise. While the increase is dramatic, yes, it is still an order of magnitude below what a civilian family pays, on average, in premiums. In 2009, the average amount paid in premiums for a civilian family was $13,375 (see the link below).

A year ago we were budgeting to pay our own health insurance (it wasn't included for Berkeley postdocs), to the tune of 1,200.00 per month (yes, two months of our insurance premiums would be more than double what the government is requesting RETIRED military members pay for one year). Then, after arriving, we discovered that Berkeley postdocs had become unionized, and we would only have to pay in a percentage (a low percentage of 7%). The government had no say in that. And, as a union members, we are still paying almost twice as much as the example retired military members + family currently pay.

Yes, our military service members did/do volunteer to protect our country, but I think it is not unreasonable to expect that they might contribute more, financially, to their own healthcare plan. The US is in a deep recession, and I am fully in support of measures, cuts and taxes, to reasonably bring us out of it. But we are 15 trillion dollars deep in debt. It isn't going to easy on any of us.

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