Flight Attendant Stories

As the World Turns

Healthcare law, unemployment rates, taxes – yikes!  Who to believe, where to turn?  What will we do? 

It’s hard to know what to think or how to choose a path if pieces of the puzzle are missing.  Worse yet, it’s even harder if you don’t know that some of the facts or numbers just aren’t correct or have been, hmmmm…maybe manipulated?  Let’s start with healthcare laws and see if we can shed some light on the topic and how the above-mentioned subjects may relate to each other. 

In many countries around the world, there is some form of mandated healthcare coverage system – universal health care – for their citizens.  These systems include Single Payer, Two-Tier, and Insurance Mandate.

In a Single Payer system the government provides insurance for all citizens and pays for all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance.  Health care providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.  Examples of  countries with a Single Payer system are Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Canada, Italy, and Spain.

In a Two-Tier system, the government mandates catastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all citizens, but allows for additional, voluntary insurance coverage for a fee-for-service care.  Examples of countries with this kind of system are France, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, and Hong Kong (a city-state in the People’s Republic of China).

In an Insurance Mandate system, the government mandates all citizens purchase insurance from either private, public, or non-profit insurers.  Examples of countries with an Insurance Mandate are Germany, Austria, Greece, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States in 2014 if things don’t change by then.

Now, for the next question…Where does the money come from to pay for universal health care in countries who have it?  Well, one of the major ways is by taxing the citizens of that country.  Taxes, you say?  Ah, yes indeed. 

That leads to the next topic – Income Taxes and other Taxes around the World for 2012.

In the United Kingdom, the personal income basic tax rate for wages starts at 20% and goes as high as 50% for annual wages over 150,000 euro dollars (EUR). 

In France, there is no income tax for anyone making under 6,089 EUR annually.  However, starting at that amount citizens are taxed at a rate of 5.5% up for up to 12,146 EUR.  The tax rate increases until anyone making above 72,317 EUR annually is taxed at a rate of 41%.

Greece’s income tax rate begins at 18% and increases to 45% for anyone making over 100,000 EUR annually.  In addition to the income tax, other taxes may apply to wages or profits earned, including social services, medical care, and capital gains taxes.

In Austria, the the income tax rate begins at 36.5% of annual wages of 11,000-25,000 EUR, and up to 50% for annual wages of 60,001 EUR and over.  In addition to the income taxes, Austrians are also required to pay social security tax rates between 18.07% – 18.2%.

In Germany, the tax rate is 14% for annual wages (EUR) from 8,005-52,881 and is progressive of up to 45% for annual wages of 250,731 and over. 

Italy has a progressive income tax rate starting at 23% for annual wages (EUR) up to 15,000.  There are 4 bands of tax rates with the highest rate being 43% for annual wages (EUR) of 75,000 and up.

So it seems that citizens in countries with some kind of universal health care system pay a lot of taxes from their annual wages.  So now I ask, what happens if there’s a high unemployment rate in a country and the goverment can’t collect enough taxes at the current tax rate to pay for the universal health care system and other amenities for its citizens?  Does the government raise taxes or create new taxes for certain sectors of the population, thus pitting one group against another?  Does it eliminate or reduce benefits and welfare programs?  Does it create jobs?  What level of unemployment triggers serious government action? 

In the U.S., the current unemployment rate reported for April, 2012 was 8.1%.  Does this number trigger serious government action, or is the number considered not THAT bad?  Let’s look.  According to government figures and research, the 8.1% unemployment number means 12.5 million people out of approximately 154.365 million people in the civilian labor force are not working.  But is this 8.1% unemployment rate correct?  Let’s look again and see…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment figures by race, sex, and age for April, 2012, included a total of 9.144 million white men and women, 2.383 million black/African American men and women, and 2.498 million Hispanic/Latino men and women who were unemployed.  That’s a total of 14,025,000 people out of work that month.  Now, stay with me…Divide the 14,025,000 unemployed by the 154,365,000 in the civilian labor force, and that produces a 9.1% (real) unemployment rate for the groups reported, not the 8.1% unemployment rate the government reports.  Can someone please explain this discrepancy to me? 

Should we be concerned about an unemployment rate that’s underreported or perhaps, factually manipulated, and why?  Or should we be more concerned that not very much is being done quickly enough, or at all, to reduce the high unemployment rate in this great country?  

Finally, how are we going to pay for mandated health care if so many people are out of work? 

We’d like your thoughts.

Leave a Reply