Friday, October 16, 2009

Plant closures

A thought crossed my mind as I read in the local paper about yet another company closing a number of plants. What impact do these job losses have on other industries? I'm not thinking about suppliers to these businesses as we can all imagine the direct impact there. But what about its impact on industries not related in any way.
Well, there is something in the insurance industry called coordination of benefits or COB. If for example an employee or plan member has access to a spousal plan for drugs, often there is a sharing of the costs. Each plan will cover a portion of the cost of prescription drugs , or dental services etc. It is a way in which a plan actually can save money while providing employees and plan members a higher level of service.
So in the case of a business closing and perhaps hundreds or even thousands of employees effected by this, the net result will be to increase costs on a spousal plan. Even though the two industries may not be related , the job loss is felt by the other industry. If two plans were each covering $50 of a monthly drug spend , one will now have to cover the full $100 thus premiums will rise faster than anticipated.
Another area impacted by this is at the physician level. Some of these folks are not going to have a drug plan and they may end up at the physicians office looking to change medications or help with samples (Only the new products are found there and usually at a higher price) . Some, patients may stop taking their medications all together thereby increasing their risk of more serious events. Both of these add to the cost of our public plans.

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