[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]
It's no secret that the big 3 auto makers have been beating a path to the door in Washington, hoping for up to $75 billion in loans to shore up their bottom line.
Kind of makes you wonder who is next.
But in light of the negative publicity levied on AIG about how they are spending OUR money, I thought it only fair to shine a light on the auto manufacturer's as well.
So amid all those fat benefits, how much could be cut in order to make it more palatable for the Bank of the U. S. Citizens to lend money?
One area might be drug costs.
Current and former union officials share auto executives' criticisms of pharmaceutical companies' advertising, saying that it drives up costs. They say that overall costs for the benefits should be controlled, but not in ways that penalize the health or pocketbooks of workers.
Control costs, but without "penalties".
It certainly is good to know union officials want to help . . . as long as they don't have to give up anything.
Isn't this part of the problem?
Nissan has begun steering employees toward generic drugs by setting lower co-payments for them and higher co-payments for costlier medicines still under patent. DaimlerChrysler made the same change for its nonunion, salaried workers at the start of this year, and found that it helped control costs in the first quarter of 1999, said Nancy Rae, the company's vice president for compensation and benefits.
Steering towards lower costs options is certainly one way to save money. It is worthy to note that DaimlerChrysler was able to make plan alterations for their non-union employees only.
The U.A.W. has long resisted such changes. Union officials maintain that financial considerations should not discourage workers from seeking the best possible medical care.
So why does more expensive = better care?
That is not always the case. This is especially true with medications. Recent studies have shown that older, less expensive drugs are just as effective, if not more so, than newer, higher priced meds but with fewer side effects.
At G.M., Viagra accounted for $10 million of the $676 million in prescription benefit costs last year,
I certainly have nothing against having a little fun, but when my tax dollars are in play I might have to say enough is enough.