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Is health care moving in the right direction?

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

I think we could all agree that as a country America would like to see affordable health care for all its citizens. The Affordable Health Care Legislation passed a few years ago, now under consideration by the Supreme Court, I fear will not provide us with a health care system equally available to all citizens while lowering the cost of quality health care in the country.

Our small company, with just over 50 employees, recently went through the insurance renewal process. Over the last few years we typically experienced increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent, despite annually reducing the benefits and trying hybrid plans in an attempt to control the rising costs. This year, to stay with the plan we had, would have incurred an increase of nearly 50 percent. Now, in fairness we did have a few employees who required involved surgeries and hospital stays, thus increasing our renewal costs.

In order to control costs we switched carriers, increased co-pays and deductibles and still realized an increase in the premium of nearly everyone.

Now the problem is we have absolutely no idea what will happen next year when the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) is due to take affect. This year, our company will pay more than $150,000 to cover 48 employees who choose to participate. Our employees will pick up $90,000 toward the cost of the total premium due the insurance company. They will also have to cover their co-pays and deductible charges for services performed. My guess is that contribution split is fairly common among most private employers who assist their employees with the cost of health insurance.

Based on what we currently know when AHCA goes into effect next year companies like ours will be faced with a major decision. The decision will be, do we as a company continue to offer a limited health insurance plan to our employees or do we throw in the towel and discontinue the company sponsored plan in favor of a more attractive offering from the federal government. As I understand it, if we opt to make that choice, we will face a fine from the federal government of $2,000 per employee — far less than we will pay for the insurance premium.

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@denpubs.com

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