With the continuing partial government shutdown and the shaky rollout of Obamacare, the issue of health insurance has never been such a central and divisive topic in the national conversation. Surely there are thousands of unemployed or temping JDs who are entering the brave new world of insurance exchanges and its attendant “hiccups.” In a development that perhaps should alarm the lowest-paid support staffers at law firms, some corporations appear poised to drop “bare bones” health-care benefits altogether for low-wage employees in favor of directing such employees to the new state exchanges.

Of course, for the lawyers at firms, such developments concerning the exchanges are essentially an abstract issue. That is not to say that attorney benefits packages are not subject to “new normal” economic pressures, or that the ultimate effect of the Affordable Care Act on private health insurance packages is unknowable. As noted here way back in 2009, some firms have added health care cost clawbacks to their expense-cutting repertoire of layoffs and pay cuts. Many associates have found themselves, post-Recession, with higher premiums and deductibles and thus, a de facto salary cut. Comparing salaries and bonuses across law firms overlooks the element of health insurance costs, about which there is no equivalent transparency. Undoubtedly there are significant variations across firms in this area, and some firms that appear to pay “market” aren’t quite doing so in light of their requiring a larger fraction of health care premiums. These variations inevitably distort direct comparisons.

We’d like to bring some transparency to this topic — but we need your help….

How is your employer doing? Has your firm altered its health care insurance plan — including increasing your fraction of the premium — as a sort of “stealth pay cut”? (Perhaps the mere fact of your continuing employment allows you shrug off such an increase.)

Help us shed some light on what firms require associates to contribute to their health care costs. Obviously, a perfect survey on this subject is difficult because there are differences in quality among insurance providers. But we think it would be helpful to at least get a sense of the various contribution ranges for single associates, married couples/partnerships, and family plans.

Our law firm health insurance survey is brief and absolutely confidential. Respondents are not obliged to name their employers, although we encourage you to do so. Please take a couple of minutes and take our survey here. Thanks.

Law Firm Health Insurance Survey
[Above the Law]


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