Tag Archives: health saving plans

A Bad Idea – Bush Health Savings Accounts for the Poor

President Bush, once again with nice sounding thoughts about helping the poor with expanding Health Care Accounts, winds up doing nothing. What the poor really need is a higher minimum wage. Maybe if they had less stress trying to make ends meet with no money they would be healthier. Try living on $10,920 a year and see how much stress you would have.

In a just released study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington DC, they say that Bush’s Individual Health Savings Account idea would actually result in a net increase in the number of workers without heath care insurance. The reason is that there would be a decline in the number of employers providing health care. This would offset any gain in individual coverage.

Once again Bush is looking out for corporate interests, decreasing their obligation to provide health care insurance. Places like Wendy’s which only start their store crew at minimum wage and add only dollar or two over time, really are shirking their social responsibility to provide people working for them with a decent livable wage. By paying low wages they shift the burden of health care costs onto the taxpayers who pick up the increased medical costs through public assistance programs. They want people to work for them but they certainly don’t provide fair wages by paying minimum wage.

Some 33 states nationwide have a state minimum wage the same as the Federal minimum wage of $5.25 per hour. That’s the same as it was 9 years ago. Funny thing is you can’t buy a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread for what it cost nine years ago.

Compassionate conservatism? Hey I’ve got some tax breaks for the wealthy I’d like to sell you.
Don’t blame me if they trickle down on you, like a little warm and with a yellow tinge.

You don’t understand do you Mr. President?

Talk about out of his mind – How stupid do you think the American people are Mr President?

The NY Times yesterday carried an article entitled, “Bush Promotes Health Accounts at Wendy’s” Bush spoke at Wendy’s corporate Headquarters not a local Wendy’s restaurant. Bush campaigned for expanding what are called Health Savings Plans. Currently these plans only cover catastrophic health care costs, with the first $1050 picked up by the policy holder. Up to $5000 a year can be put in this account. This may be of some interest to people like John T Schuessler, the Chairman of the Board of Wendy’s although I doubt it. Last years annual report said that he received a salary of $1,047,730 plus “restricted stock awards” and other compensation totaling another $6,325,914.

Let’s look at the other end of Wendy’s employees – the crew that serves the food. I called several local Wendy’s in Seattle to see what I would get per hour if I went to work for them. I was told that wages stared at minimum wage. Fortunately I’m in Washington State which has the highest state minimum wage in the country – $7.63. Now if I worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks I would receive a gross pay of $15, 870. Eventually I was told I could get as much as $9.25 an hour. I’m truly lucky I live in Washington state with its high minimum wage..

When I checked with the Restaurant Association on line they had a map of state minimum wages across the country. Turns out 33 states minimum wage is only $5.15 an hour or only $10,712 a year and while I didn’t check what people make at Wendy’s in these states I would bet you that its not going to be much above the minimum wage.

Next I was curious as to what are the Federal Guidelines for poverty in the US. For 1 person it’s considered $9800, for a family of 2 it’s $13,200, for a family of 3 it’s $16,000 and a family of 4 it’s $20,000. I have a family of 4 so if I went to work for Wendy’s I would be working and earning below the poverty level.

When I asked Wendy’s if there were any benefits, they said no. Now I could see why Wendy’s would be supportive of Health Savings Plans. Their crew employees make poverty level wages
and are paid no benefits. So instead of the President asking Wendy’s how they can expect their bottom level employees to live a decent life working 40 hours a week and being paid poverty level wages and no benefits, he says that they could put some of their poverty level wages in a health savings account. Then they would have health care. Right? I guess that’s instead of paying rent or buying groceries or buying a toy or two if they have kids.

According to the NY times article it seems Bush is willing to put the blame on poverty level workers for having no health care, not the company or the US Government and the fact that the Federal minimum wage has not increased in 9 years. It’s all individual responsibility he says.

In answering critics of his plan Bush responded. “It’s kind of basically saying, ‘If you’re not making a lot of money, you can’t make decisions for yourself,’ ” Mr. Bush told Wendy’s employees assembled in the company’s lobby. “That’s kind of a Washington attitude, isn’t it. ‘We’ll decide for you, you can’t figure it out yourself.’ I think a lot of folks here at Wendy’s would argue that point of view is just simply backwards and not true.”

Yeh I see your point Mr. President. What’s the matter with minimum wage worker’s at places like Wendys in America? Really, how hard of a decision is it to make? You’re living at poverty level and you expect to have health care when you are having problems subtracting your rent and food and water and heat and electricity and still having more than a few dollars to live on? Heaven forbid you should get sick and need medicine. You should just count your blessings that people like Chairman Schuessler have a job for you at all.