I was listening recently to the audio book version of Senator Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (because it’s easier to listen to it at work than to find the time to sit and read it), and discovered (on Disc 4), the senator’s health care plan, which includes allowing everyone to buy into the Federal Employee Health Benefits plans. Now this surprised me, given that my union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, has endorsed Mr. Obama for president. The reason for my surprise, of course, is that the NALC’s members would have their health insurance costs go up under this plan.
Letter carriers, which are among the healthier subsets of Americans, and far healthier on average than the average American, are a substantial chunk of the current FEHB enrollees. I have not had any luck tracking down enrollment numbers in FEHB (but will continue to look), but I know that there are ~200,000 letter carriers in the USA, and I would project maximum FEHB enrollment at ~2 million. If the more than 200 million citizens of the USA were to suddenly enroll in the FEHB plans, the letter carriers would go from ~10% of enrollment to ~0.1% of enrollment, which would decrease the overall health level of the risk pool, and drive up prices substantially.
Political bias aside, I have some trouble understanding why the letter carriers’ union would endorse a candidate whose stated plan for health care would have a direct negative effect on its’ members’ health care. None of the reasons the NALC has stated for supporting Obama (e.g. EFCA) has as much of a direct impact on letter carriers as this one component, and that makes the NALC look like yet another partisan tool of Big Labor.