Segmented Labor Markets, Segmented Lives: Hispanic Workers and the Employment-Based Welfare State
The historic recession of 2008 clearly revealed the weakness of the employment-based health care and retirement financing systems upon which Americans have come to rely. The recession brought home to the middle class what has always been the reality for minority and low-wage Americans. In one year retirement savings plans lost almost half of their value and millions of Americans were thrown out of work. At the time this manuscript goes to press, the recession is a bit over a year old and the extent of the eventual damage will not be clear for some time. The recession was, of course, global and seriously affected the economies of all nations. All over the world workers lost their jobs and saw their personal savings erode, yet the differences in the impact of unemployment were stark. In the United States when workers lose their jobs they not only lose income, they lose their health-care coverage as well. Those who belong to an employer-sponsored group plan are by law allowed to continue their participation at their own expense for up to 18 months or more, but they must cover the full cost, which in 2008 was over $12,000 a year for a family policy (Kaiser Family Foundation 2008). In other developed nations, the loss of a job does not mean the loss of health-care coverage because of near universality of national health insurance.