The company president and trustworthy caregiver have no direct interaction for a family owned business that helps some 200 consumers across seven counties, but they share common traits. Both are hard workers who have succeeded in their roles. Each describes the care of needy people as their calling. They want to do well for others as well as themselves.
But their interests diverge on America's
Who should pay for it? Who should receive help with it? What should be mandatory? What's an employer's role vs. the individual's and government's?
And what's appropriate, in particular, in a field that has historically offered meager pay and benefits to hundreds of thousands of workers who may be exposed to injury and illness in helping others navigate their own health difficulties?
Following the debate
He contends the
"I'd pay them all
One fact that has resulted in less of a financial impact than he first feared, however, is that relatively few of his eligible employees opt to take the coverage. Of 77 who qualify, based on full-time status and having worked for the company for at least a year, only 11 caregivers and 15 managers accept the employer health plan. Unlike caregivers, managers have always been provided a health plan option due to their "more professional" status,
As for the bulk of caregivers, who generally are in their 20s and 30s and make
"With this employee base, they have more need for immediate gratification through their wages rather than seeing a reduction for a benefit such as health insurance,"
Unlike those generally younger co-workers,
"When it comes out of your paycheck, you don't even think about it. It just happens," said the divorcee who lives alone. "I can live with what I'm paying right now."
She has worked for
She's generally in good health, but her age means she's also among those who could be hurt most by changes proposed in the American Health Care Act if faced with purchasing insurance on her own. The
"It's people like me that are gonna be in deep doo-doo," she says, suggesting that any loss of employer-aided insurance could force her to leave a field where recruiting and retaining quality workers is a constant challenge for people like
How good is
A growing business
He had no experience running such a large business when starting
"When my business grows, it means I'm hiring more people," he said. "We provide a lot of jobs to people who need them."
Many of the personal care agencies were too small to fall under the mandate, but for the larger ones, they have been less likely in the past than home health agencies to offer employer-backed health insurance. Those that had not offered insurance in some cases began reducing workers below 30 hours a week to sidestep the health coverage requirement. Some others dropped out of the
But those employers that began offering the coverage have generally adjusted to accommodate it, said
"If you ask our members, probably 99 percent would say recruitment and retention is their
How they, and the government, work that out remains to be seen.
"I'm going to keep working as long as I can -- I have to," she said. When asked if she's worried her own health will force her out of the work she enjoys, she said with a chuckle, "I'm the new 40 ... though my bones don't always feel that way."
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