Letters to the Editor

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HEALTH CARE: Providence cuts costs by cutting workers’ benefits

Letter by Chris Reykdal, Tumwater on March 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm with No Comments »
March 4, 2013 1:12 pm

St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is a valuable asset to our region, and I want the hospital and the network of related providers to be successful. However, the growing trend to deflate total compensation and benefit packages, which is clearly valuable to individual enterprises, has a very disruptive impact on the financial health of our communities.

This situation is made worse when the health care providers we rely on are forced into catastrophic high-deductible health care plans. There is a sad irony that Providence is trying to increase health care costs for the very employees who deliver health care to the rest of us.

It is in this vein that I write with serious concern about Providence’s persistent march towards high-deductible health insurance plans. I fought these in the Legislature during the 2012 session as our state’s teachers were being asked once again to pay more while they got less.

I have yet to see empirical evidence that shows health savings accounts and high-deductible plans improve health outcomes for workers. Instead, I fear that it is clearly a cost shift from employer to employee with the adverse impact of workers failing to address health conditions due to a fear of large out-of-pocket costs.

As an influential employer in our region (one that receives very large tax breaks), Providence has a moral obligation to the community and its workers. For the sake of its employees, patients and the community, Providence should reevaluate its position on high-deductible health insurance plans.

(Reykdal is a Democratic state representative in the 22nd Legislative District.)

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