Introduction and purpose of study
The recent worldwide economic crisis has seen many countries undergo a period of economic recession. This has resulted in inflation to a point that some basic facilities formerly provided by employers to their employees have become difficult to provide. Some of these facilities formerly provided by organizations or employers to their employees include: house allowances, travelling allowances and healthcare. Due to the economic recession, all the sectors have been affected making employers be in a point not to provide some of these facilities to their employees. In this paper, the main topic covered is healthcare issue which appears to be diminishing from employers’ mind as the economic recession tightens in most sections of the economy (Consumers' Research Magazine, 2003).
Healthcare in most organizations is provided in form of insurance policies to the employees by their employers. This means that in case an employee who acquires health related problems while in line of duty and the health issue is directly rooted in the job, the employer covers all or part of the costs incurred while seeking medical services. Due to the structure of the job, different employees have different insurance covers which are all similar in being contractual. However, most employers have shunned down this idea though it attracts very many skilled employees to an organization. A wide range of reasons can be referred to as the causative aspects but the main reasons are discussed below.
Having looked at the current situation, I would like to address this issue since the employment sector is one of the main economic drivers in the world. This problem does not affect only one region or country thus I find it rather urgent and important to tackle it. The other reason why I find the topic to be of great importance is its relevance to all sectors of social life. One of the most important aspects that a person should consider is healthcare thus avoiding to cover it while under employment can result in very many uncovered employment related risks which might reduce the urge for people to work for some employers. This will in turn result in increased poverty related issues like social immorality and crime (Consumers' Research Magazine, 2003).
This paper is mainly directed towards employers and employees alike since they are the main stakeholders in healthcare issues in an organization. This is mainly because there are some issues that regard the employees that make employers feel unworthy of providing the required healthcare facilities to their employees and also the employees have some issues that make them pissed off by some covers the employers provide.
Thesis statement and hypothesis
The main issue of concern in this paper revolves around employee healthcare. To have a better scope of how this is provided by the employers, the paper will analyze the problems found in employee healthcare, reasons or factors causing the problems, the best approach to the problems and recommendations on how deal with health related problems among the employees. A look at the hypotheses in this research, some of the possible ones are: employees complain about their healthcare and request for too much as insurance cover, some insurance policies are oppressive on the employers, some employees are not ready to work with what the employers can provide and on the recommendations, the employers and employees should come round a table and discuss the issue of healthcare from a common perspective. This should result in a form of employee insurance policy for all employees in a specific area of operation or employers in a certain line of production. To have the best of the understanding on this issue, the paper outlines the reasons or causes of poor employee healthcare, benefits of healthcare to all parties (employers and employees), ethical issues facing healthcare and solutions to the problems among other aspects in the whole section of employee healthcare.
Reasons for poor employee healthcare
- Increased costs of health insurance packages. Due to the economic recessions, many sectors of the economy were heavily negatively impacted on. This made the general production cost to rise for any product including healthcare to the employees. Since most organizations have acquired insurance covers from other companies and their running costs rose, the employers were requested to pay more for each employee. This resulted in a further decrease in profits earned since the employee required a salary increase to keep in pace with the rising costs of living and the purchase prices of most inputs had also gone up. This further resulted employer oppression and as a result, the employers resulted in offering less or virtually no healthcare to the employees. As a result, most employees have stopped to seek healthcare cover within the organizations they work in since the amount deducted from their salaries for this cover is very high compared to the rate of risk occurrence while in the work place (Catherine, 2010).
- Employee complains on the quality of healthcare services offered. In most cases, due to the economic crisis, the employers sort cheap insurance covers for their employees. As a result, poor services are offered to the employees who in turn find no need to book for the healthcare cover. This results in employees requesting their employers to drop their (employee) healthcare scheme instead of paying for unworthy healthcare. The other aspect under this main issue is the quality of healthcare compared to the risk most likely to affect the employee. In most cases, employees are faced with different job related problems within a company. For example, an electrical engineer is faced with different health risks compared to secretaries. Requesting such employees to pay equal amount of premiums for the healthcare insurance scheme in the company is being unfair to the employees facing lesser risks. Also, providing same healthcare facilities to the two classes of employees is unfair since one may be prone to physical health risks while the other is prone to psychological health risks (Institute of Medicine, 2004).
- Cheaper personal insurance schemes with better services than the group insurance policy in an organization. In most cases, high risk careers which also include highly trained personnel from all areas of the economy seek personal healthcare insurance schemes. This makes them more independent in terms of personal healthcare compared to those whose healthcare insurance is provided by their employer. As a result, very few employees seek medical cover from their employers. Considering the structure of the two policies (provided by the employer to the employee and the one provided by the insurance body directly to the employee), the amount of premiums paid are approximately equal but the quality of service provided by the insurance agency directly to the client is much higher than that through the employer. This makes the employees incline towards personal insurance schemes which are also beneficial to the beneficiaries of the insured party. This is not the case in employer based insurance policy. The other issue is that personal insurance schemes do not end simply due to end of a contract. There are benefits attached to it making it to appear as a benefits scheme of the insured after terminating the contract with the insurer. In case an employee terminates a contract with the employer, there are no benefits from the healthcare scheme.
- Change in work relationships. In the past, employees relied on almost all aspects on their employers. As a result, the employers had to cover their employee healthcare as part of the contract between the two parties. This resulted in a compulsory healthcare cover for every employee making the whole process of insurance appear a nag to the two parties. This resulted in poor insurance covers at high costs. Due to changes in the current employment treads, the employees are more of independent entities who have a contract only on work basis. In case such a person has a health related issue, he/she relies solely on him/herself. This has resulted in better personal insurance and better working conditions are demanded by the employee. Due to regular improvement costs of the working conditions, the employers also find it difficult to provide both working conditions which are less prone to healthcare risks and proper healthcare cover (Catherine, 2010).
Having covered these issues and discussed the causes of reluctance in provision of healthcare by the employers, it is clear that both parties are to blame for this problem. To emphasize on the need for the healthcare on the employees, the paper turns its focus on the importance of healthcare to the employees and the employers.
Importance of healthcare
In most cases, employees are not able to meet current or future healthcare related requirements. The healthcare scheme helps them take care of these issues in the present and the future. As a result, the employees feel safe and secure while working in a place where they know healthcare insurance is optimum (Dans, 2007).
Taking a look at the employers’ side, the greatest importance is in the ability to operate without any worries in case an employee gets hurt while in duty. This creates confidence in that employer and the employees who feel honored and recognized. The other importance to the employer is the ease of finding employees. Most employees would prefer an employer who caters for their health while in operation. This applies even to the employees who have personal healthcare covers (Tim, 2010). As a result, the rate of employee turnover is less compared to when the employer does not offer any healthcare insurance. As an example, a review of employee turnover rates in the United States indicate that highly skilled employees, most of who still have personal healthcare schemes, have less turnover rates compared to low skilled employees who move from one organization to another in search for employers who offer employee healthcare. Due to this issue, a lot of employees prefer to work with a company that offers healthcare insurance even if the amount paid is not their anticipated amounts (McBride, 2003). The graphs given indicate how this occurs.
Personal healthcare proportions among the labor pool in the US
These graphs indicate the general importance of healthcare facilities in a company hence the employers should do all possible to ensure that they have healthcare services provided to their employees to attract their attention and ensure their retention once they are hired.
Ethical issues facing healthcare provision
In most countries, United States included, employee healthcare is enforced by law on the employer. This results in classification of a business as either small scale, medium or large business. However, all these classes of business enterprises are governed by federal laws, tax laws and civil laws in discharging healthcare to their employees (O’Neill Institute, 2009).
The other issue on employee healthcare is tax laws. This is where the issue of business size plays a very significant role. A small business (with employees up to 50) paying the employees a gross income of about $50000 per annum and giving healthcare insurance to the employees can get tax discounts of up to 35% of the total tax levied. This acts as an inducement to the small business employers to book healthcare insurance for their employees. This tax relief is taken to be used in providing for insurance cover to the employees. As a result, the employers are in a way required to provide healthcare facilities to their employees (Paul, 1999).
On matters pertaining to federal laws on employee healthcare, the main emphasis is contained in department of labor and is implemented as labor laws. These laws dictate that it is a human right that should be provided by all employers to their employees to have healthy working conditions. These laws are sub-divided to cover different classes of employees who in turn are guided by the law to work under the given conditions. According to the federal laws, all risky occupations should have an insurance cover that should be proportional to the probability of occurrence. This is all provided under the Occupational safety and health Act of the US constitution. Some state laws also play a very important role in streamlining the whole process of ensuring that employees work under the safest conditions and their health is well taken care of (O’Neill Institute, 2009).
Closely related to this idea of employee healthcare is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which dictates the requirements that an employee considers while seeking healthcare from the employer. The act was enacted in 1996 and it mainly covers health insurance of workers and their families even when they lose jobs. The Act provides about 4 rules that guide healthcare operations within the country. In the privacy rule, any person has a right to confidentiality on health issues and can only be disclosed only with a written and duly signed request form. This makes the employers provide employees with healthcare upon request without much questioning upon production of a confidentially signed medical report urging the employer to do so. All the other rules are geared towards how a healthcare plan can be achieved, terminated and on which basis protected health information about a person can be disclosed upon request. As a result, this federal law is very effective in ensuring human healthcare under all conditions (Eagle, 2005).
Solutions to the healthcare problems
After discussing the problems and the laws governing healthcare as well as the importance of healthcare, the focus now turns to the solutions.
The other issue is on working conditions. As most employees claim, the working conditions can be improved to reduce the probability of occurrence of a health related issue. This most likely result more cash flow to the repairs and improvement of the working conditions. As a result, the employees feel taken care of hence low employee turnover rates.
In summary, healthcare is a very vital aspect in the society and business that has to be well taken care of. To achieve this, the main problems affecting healthcare should be addressed from the very root to ensure they are solved completely. This would result in mutual trust of the employees on their employer in provision of healthcare. As a result, the employer will benefit by having healthy employees who can perform with minimal complains. The rate of employee retention will also be very good for the employee (Janet, 2008). Upon the full implementation of the above proposed solutions, the employees can fully trust their employers and perform with great passion, dedication and devotion.
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