How dire is the healthcare and retirement planning situation in America? In early May the trustees for Social Security and Medicare reported that the Social Security trust fund will be depleted in 2040, and the Medicare trust fund will go bust in 12 years, in 2018. What to do about this sorry state of affairs?
One solution may be legislation. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) said last month that the Senate would “move forward” legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming), “The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006″ (S. 1955). The bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee in March, and at press time was being debated on the Senate floor.
S. 1955, co-sponsored by Senators Conrad Burns (R-Montana) and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), would allow small businesses to combine their negotiating power to purchase more affordable health insurance plans. By doing this, small companies “would reduce the cost of health insurance by $1,000 per employee, while reducing the number of uninsured by 8%, which is more than one million Americans,” Frist said in prepared statement. “Skyrocketing health insurance costs and complicated state regulations are pricing small businesses out of the health insurance market,” he added. Within the past five years, the cost of health insurance for companies has nearly doubled from $4,200 to $8,100 per family, he said, and health care costs jumped three times faster than inflation in 2005.