Together for quality care

Fairview’s plan dramatically increases out-of-pocket costs for employee health care.

Any of us who’ve had the misfortune of lining up our own health insurance is well aware that it’s not only confusing, but ridiculously expensive, too. Luckily for many undergraduates and some graduate students, it’s possible to remain on our parents’ insurance for the duration of school.

However employees of the Fairview Riverside campus of the University’s Medical Center don’t have that luxury and are facing some tough choices with Fairview’s new health-insurance plan.

Fairview’s plan dramatically increases out-of-pocket costs for employee health care and charges higher premiums for people with families.

This will put some workers who are members of Service Employees International Union Local 113 in impossible positions: This month, will it be health care or the mortgage? Or, which one of my children should I include on my health insurance?

At first glance this might not seem like a big deal – everyone’s health costs are skyrocketing, right? Clearly, though, this is a big deal for the employees themselves.

But it is also a big deal for University students and community members. All of us are potential Fairview patients.

I know that if I were to become a patient, I would want my caregiver to be capable of offering me the best service possible.

This is only possible if their health, and the health of their families, is taken care of.

Moreover, Fairview, as a member of our community, bears responsibility to be a good community member and a good corporate citizen.

If we do not hold entities like Fairview responsible for the health care they provide their workers, it will become simply one more company propelling the race to the bottom.

Finally, while the people who provide on-the-ground care are just getting by, Fairview President and Chief Executive David Page earns about $800,000 per year – in fact, he makes more in one day than most workers make in one month.

What is more, Fairview took in approximately $66 million in profits in 2004. Considering their profits and executive compensation, it’s clear Fairview could afford good health care for their employees if they wanted to.

It’s time to hold hospitals like Fairview accountable for providing good health insurance for the people who work in their hospitals.

Not only do they have the means, they have a responsibility to their employees and the community. Right now, they aren’t living up to it.

Call David Page and tell him that affordable health insurance for the people who work in our hospitals is essential to protecting the health of our community.

If we don’t do something about this now, it could be too late.

Kjersten Nelson is a political science graduate student at the University. Please send comments to [email protected].