Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.


I had to switch to my husband’s health insurance last year because I was getting no coverage at work during the budget crisis. While I could tolerate this situation for myself, I couldn’t allow my infant daughter to spend even a day uncovered.

My husband’s insurance is a lot worse than the one I had through the state of Illinois. It’s 3 times more expensive and the deductibles for everything are sky-high.

I have finally understood the reason for Illinois’s constant budget troubles. With pensions that even their recipients are saying are ridiculously generous* and these unparalleled health benefits, no wonder the state is sinking. The system seems engineered to make people hate state workers.

Of course, I’m not going back on the state insurance because it’s very clear to me that the whole thing is unsustainable. And I don’t want to be anywhere near it when it all collapses like it almost did a year ago.

*It’s hard to explain why anybody should be able to retire on a full pension at 55 after working in a very non-life-threatening job. It’s even harder to explain why anybody’s taxes should cover this sort of indulgence.


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10 thoughts on “Unsustainable

  1. Well, IL state workers don’t get social security, and a lot of these jobs aren’t life-threatening but do break bodies down. 18-55 is 37 years of work.

    The thing about the unsustainability of decent health insurance is propaganda, and there is a heck of a lot of propaganda about insurance and pensions in IL.


    • I can retire at 55 with a big pension. I haven’t worked here since 18 and it’s honestly not that onerous. I have a friend who just retired and who was a school PhysEd teacher. Even he says it’s ridiculous.

      Most people in this country don’t get anything like this, and asking them to support it with taxes is not going to work.


      • Shakti on said:

        I suspect though, that most state employee jobs are not like yours or the Phys Ed teacher. Or maybe the deal was struck when most state employee jobs were very physical.

        Remember that article with the doctor who diagnosed disability for the purpose of receiving state benefits by asking “What grade did you finish?” His reasoning is that people with education can get jobs where they can sit (and not aggravate back pain) whereas they’d find it impossible to do construction or retail all day.

        As for other tenured professors, how many of them do retire at 55? Do tenured professors make the bulk of employees or received payments from the state pension fund?

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, you can’t manage to get people to retire even at the brink of their 70s. We keep trying to hold on to unrealistic and unsustainable traditions, like tenure and full professorship for one lifetime published article while teaching exactly two majors per year. We’ll lose everything if we don’t begin to acknowledge that being able to do this was a fluke. It’s not a normal state of reality.

          But nobody wants to recognize that this is unsustainable. People say this has to remain the same because it’s “always” been like this.


          • I also need to say that these folks who by an absolute fluke managed to have these kinds of cushy, vegetative existences will destroy the future for all of us because they don’t want to accept reality. We have our sister campus shutting down forms and clearly preparing to downsize to an online diploma mill. Yet this is teaching us absolutely nothing.

            This is not all caused by evil external powers. We are massively complicit in the dismantling of the public higher ed.


  2. Shakti on said:

    There’s no such thing as “should” in this instance. Those benefits exist because at some point the state legislature and the unions agreed upon this way of compensating state employers.

    Health insurance through your employer exists mainly because of a loophole in a World War II law at a time when businesses weren’t allowed to raise pay to attract workers.

    A pension is just another benefit employed instead of paying people more in the present. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future.

    The diamond plated pay and compensation that these mythical steelworkers pine for is the result of union negotiation — not “market forces” or what was sustainable or skill or anything like that. In today’s dollars they made an amount which is impossible for most people in my generation to make without owning their own successful business or possessing a master’s degree. [$20.30/hr in July 1985 is $49.20/hr in February 2018. Multiply that by the standard 2000 hours (40 hours a week * 50 weeks) and you get a total compensation of $98,400 a year. Even if you assume distortion based on “average” instead of “median” it’s still absurdly high.]

    Anyways how high are the deductibles, etc? My current plan was grandfathered in under the ACA and has a 5k/10k deductible for everything. I pay about $612/quarter. The prescription coverage is sucky and is only meant to not bankrupt my ass if I end up in the hospital.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clarissa, you haven’t done your homework on this.

    The cost of healthcare (plus profits) drives insurance rates. The US pays the most per capita for healthcare on the planet, and that’s due largely to Congress. On the flip side, some 20% of Americans have no healthcare coverage, and that number is increasing due to Trump’s hacking at the ACA. Every other industrialized nation has some form of universal healthcare. And the US is on a par with Bosnia in terms of life expectancy, with some 50 countries performing much better.

    The non-profit, faith-based Medi-share program shows what rates could be in the US. It charges less than half of what the major insurers charge.

    Healthcare is less of a challenge when greed is controlled.

    BTW, life expectancy in your area is below the national average. I would love to get my mother out of there.


    • As I already said, I know for a fact that if I were pregnant with my daughter back in Canada, with its nationalized healthcare, I wouldn’t have my daughter today. This makes me very uninterested in the discussion of adopting the same system here.

      I also have to reiterate that I blame my current medical issues on the ridiculously bad healthcare I was getting back in Canada in return for paying unfairly high taxes. So I see no reason to support something like this here. Here you pay but at least you receive care.


      • As for other countries,I know that in the rich Scandinavian countries immigrants from Ukraine are horrified at how bad medical care is in comparison with Ukraine. Ukraine! A place where nurses physically spit at you.

        So I’m very wary of this mythology about the amazing medical care systems that are “free” after shelling out half of your earnings in taxes.


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