Senior Caregivers: Is Health Insurance a Standard Benefit? Surprisingly, It Usually Is Not

Starbuck's founder, Howard Schultz, was passionate about finding away to provide health insurance for all Starbuck's employees.  Each Starbucks coffee shop employees several people to take the drink orders, make the coffee and take the money.  These positions do not require high level skills but do pay more than minimum wage (the national minimum wage rate is $7.25).

The challenge in providing health insurance for workers, as a corporation, is technically 75% of your staff must participate in the group health insurance plan in order for a group plan to be offered. The employees must also be willing to chip in for the monthly premium.  This usually is no problem for higher income workers.  But a monthly premium of $50 hits harder for an employee being paid  $8 or $9 an hour and usually the premium is higher than $50 a month.

Senior care companies have the additional challenge of high employee turnover (even at nursing homes, the nursing aide turnover is often higher that at a fast-food restaurant due to the emotional and physical toll caregiving takes and the high number of patients each nursing aide must care for during a shift). 

Starbucks succeeded in providing health insurance for all employees working at least 20 hours per week, and much to the dismay of many shareholders, the company takes the hit for this cost.  Howard Schultz was passionate about this because as a child, his family suffered financial hardships because his father's jobs did not provide health insurance.  The family lived in public housing and he knew from experience that when your entire paycheck must pay for health problems, there is nothing left over.

In today's current health system, the burden for insurance is placed on companies and there is not a good alternative for individuals seeking their own individual health insurance or for those who are unemployed.  Unless you show up at the emergency room - and then the circle continues as hospitals and doctors eat these costs which are passed on in higher insurance costs and higher costs of services.

Professional caregivers should all be provided with health insurance benefits - - - there is such irony in being a caregiver yet not being cared for as an employee receiving health insurance - - - and even those who must quit their jobs to be a family caregiver should have access to affordable health insurance.  That is not the case now. 


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Comments (14) -

  • Maria Cooper

    2/18/2010 4:04:48 PM | Reply

    I have worked as a professional caregiver for more than 15 years and I did have health insurance when I worked for a nursing home but the pay was horrible - practically minimum wage - and I had to care for 15 patients every day which was also impossible.  I love working for a home care agency where I care for one client and I do have an option for health care but it is expensive.

  • Dennis Bartosic

    2/18/2010 8:22:19 PM | Reply

    It's hard reality that people without benefits in their job are faced with.  I think in the country as dominant and great as US something should be done about the fact that your car by law must have insurance and there is different affordable options yet you as a human, in no comparison to your car, have no health coverage.

  • Alex Palischuk

    2/18/2010 10:44:50 PM | Reply

    I happened to know a very kind and passionate about her job caregiver with 5 years of experience. This lady brought sunshine with her hard work until this winter, when she hurt her back at work. Since her employer does not provide health insurance, she was left on her own with no job to even pay for physical therapy that she needed. From our relatives or parents, we often hear how some caregivers have negative attitudes toward elderly, no wonder why - they're in need of health care themselves. We have to rethink health-care system, since what we have now is not working.  

  • Stella Kedzie

    2/19/2010 2:35:25 PM | Reply

    I am currently employed as a part-time professional caregiver for a Home Care Agency, and I must rely on my husband's full time job for our family's health benefits. But in this economic climate, if he were to lose his job (and Cobra is expensive!), my family would be in real trouble. It would be an enormous relief to know that I could cover our family's health care needs.

  • kara

    2/22/2010 4:55:29 AM | Reply

    Sad that in this supposedly greatest country in the world, we have to fight for a basic human right in most European countries.  It's all about what's best for Corporate America.  Absolutely disgusting!

  • Monique Guttierez

    2/22/2010 6:20:34 PM | Reply

    Interesting too, that many states provide health insurance for low-income children (and even Sarah Palin is getting this free health insurance for her daughter's baby), yet the working class has no access to affordable health insurance.

  • Tom Richardson

    2/22/2010 6:59:54 PM | Reply

    Have 15 years experience as a care giver to the elderly. Have had Parkinson patients, severely developmentally disabled, Alzheimer's patients in both home, hospital, and group home settings. Only had health care offered at one place of employment and the coverage was expensive, and covered practically nothing. I was fortunate as I had retired from a career at a newspaper and had a pension and during the 15 year period received Social Security, and now am Medicare recipient. Without the extra income I never would have been able to make it on the minimum wages paid here in Florida. How can a young person even consider a career in the elder-care field when they have no help from Congress or anyone else to assist them in receiving a fair wage? So sad. Meanwhile, elders die due to a lack of good, professional care.

  • Arkut

    2/22/2010 9:41:55 PM | Reply

    I am a immigrant who became citizen after 5 years stay.
    But though I am a senior citizen, I am not entitled for health benefits like Medicare since I have not worked for ten years.
    This is a great disservice to senior people like me.
    Whereas if I was not a senior citizen, I would have been eligible for at least emergency medical benefit at free of cost.This is a great anomaly which is not understandable.
    Because of  my age I am not able to get full time job. Some part time jobs now and then keep myself floating.

    Living without medical insurance is like a sword hanging over your head  

  • shanda

    2/23/2010 5:31:07 AM | Reply

    I have been in the health care fields, for 20plus year. I have been on job with insurance , But since i move in the past year in a half. I barely can get work in the health care fields. It sadest me that working for agency or even do private duty that the agency or family memeber wants the best care for the job or for the family member,but have know concern for the heatlh care provider. With little of pay and no heatlh insurance u can't either think about going to the doctor or either consider taking a day off. It's time we stand together and fight for our right as well as our family member. If we don't do something who eactly lose in the end we do as well as our love one. Please let take a stand.

  • Judi

    2/23/2010 11:31:39 AM | Reply

    I work in a hospital and as a perdium employee have NO health insurance. No benefits period. It's almost as if I don't work for them at all. I LOVE my job as a CNA and it's the only reason I'm still there.

  • Sharon

    2/25/2010 1:29:00 PM | Reply

    I took care of my mother for 8 years while working a regular job and enjoyed it so that I chose to give up the stressful work world to become a caregiver for seniors after my mother pasted away. Unfortunately the company does not provide any type of benefits for their employees. They expect a lot from us yet refuse to give us healthcare. My company has franchises throughout the US and Canada, why can't they merge as one inorder to obtain the cheaper rates and provide us with insurance. I have a spiritual connection in my work and will continue to give to the elderly, but Congress needs to make it manditory that caregivers have medical insurance at a reasonable rate. After all we all must get old and will need a caregiver one day. Why aren't are voices being heard?

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    7/22/2010 6:19:24 AM | Reply

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    10/14/2010 12:13:21 PM | Reply

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