Health-care costs are killing Americans. Sadly, we lack the courage to swallow the bitter pill of radical reform.
No one is immune from this long-standing crisis, not even the church. The national newspaper The United Methodist Reporter ran a feature way back in 1990 detailing how health-care costs would overwhelm the financial operations of its denomination. Projecting the rate of rise of health-care insurance for United Methodist clergy, the Reporter showed that within a decade the cost of health care would outstrip the income received from the annual giving of what was then a 10-million-member global denomination.
In 2004, the Reporter followed up its investigation of 14 years earlier to determine whether it had overstated its case. Unfortunately, the projections were more-or-less on target. Although the United Methodist Church had developed a series of creative and often desperate means to keep its health-care costs under control—including wellness programs, cutting off high-risk clergy, and increasing the payment burden on its limited-income retired clergy, whose original work contract promised them paid health care in retirement—most annual conferences still find themselves in extreme distress over the cost of health care.
Surely you share distress over rising medical costs no matter where you work; that is, if your employer even covers your medical expenses.
Employer-sponsored health insurance is becoming an unbearable burden for employers, according to the annual health coverage survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. The report shows that premiums for job-based health insurance are rising 9.2 percent on average nationwide in 2005, about three times the general rate of inflation.