Fewer American Employees Get Company Health Insurance

July 15, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. costly (adj.) 
[kawst-lee, kost-] – to describe something that has a high price
Example: He does not have enough money to pay for his costly operation.

2. out-of-pocket expenses (phrase) [out-uhv-pok-it ik-spens– personal money used to pay expenses, which may or may not be paid back later by someone else
Example: She still has to pay out-o- pocket expenses for some medical tests even if she already has health care insurance.

3. avail (v.) [uh-veyl] – to make use of something
Example: They were advised to avail of an insurance plan that would protect them from health-related risks and financial losses due to illness.

4. switch (v.) [swich] – to change from one thing to another or to replace something with another thing
Example: She switched from her old insurance plan to a new insurance plan that offers more benefits.

5. private (adj.) [prahy-vit] – describing  something that is not public; something that belongs to or is for the use of only a certain person or group
Example: Only he and his dependents are covered by his private insurance plan.

Read the text below.

The weak US economy is negatively affecting employees’ access to health insurance.

According to a survey done by the Employment Benefit Research Institute, the percentage of American employees getting company health insurance has dropped by 5% ever since the recession began in December 2007.

Before that, the rate of employees getting company health insurance remained the same for over ten years.

But as of April 2011, based on the latest government data available, only 55.8% of employees were getting health insurance from their employer. The survey said 90% of these uninsured employees did not get company health insurance because it was too costly for them.

More employers are reducing the benefits of company health insurance and are asking employees to pay for a large part of the insurance.

Employees now feel that   they are paying more for insurance plans that offer less financial protection and health benefits. Moreover, employees have to pay higher out-of-pocket expenses to avail of some health care services.

Meanwhile, employees who choose not to get company health insurance are switching instead to cheaper private insurance plans. Some employees are also satisfied with being added as a dependent on someone else’s plan. About 17% of employees are listed as a dependent by their parent, spouse or partner.

Other people, however, have already decided to just give up on having any health insurance.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What are some reasons people get health insurance?
·         Should people get insurance even if it is costly? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Can you think of reasons why health care can become very expensive?
·         What should people do if they cannot afford health care?


July 15, 2012