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Layoffs or group health premiums?

DEAR EDITOR:

Recently a Valley employer announced a layoff of 3 percent of the workforce in one of its production units. There’s been some public fuming over whether the layoffs compromise the existential mission of the employer.

Yet, those employees needn’t be laid off at all and could, instead, be retained in a budget-neutral way.

How?

Stop enrolling nonworkers in group health insurance. Not only are nonworkers not factors of production, they don’t pay union dues in union shops. Use the savings to retain workers and even hire new workers. Or buy a lathe or open a sales office in Des Moines.

Why doesn’t a delegation of Valley leaders assign someone prominent to ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who’ll be a Skeggs lecturer speaking here in March, for a comment on this very strange and concealed choice forced upon HR folks and union leaders by the fundamental nature of group health insurance?

Dr. Gupta is the well-known neurosurgeon and a longtime media powerhouse on CNN, whose views are supported by many in media and corporate leaders and a network of immensely influential professional relationships. Most important, he’s a fierce defender of America’s actuarial status quo.

Ask Dr. Gupta, during economic downturns, should I lay off my productive workers and keep paying group health premiums for nonworkers, or should I stop paying group health premiums for nonworkers, and use the savings to keep my productive workers on the payroll?

JACK LABUSCH

Niles

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