Employee Benefit Plans And Group Health Insurance Plans:
Small businesses desperately looking for ways to reduce operating costs are canceling their employer group health plans at a rate not seen in more than twenty years, creating a spike in individual and family health insurance enrollments. As the nation is engaged in overall health care reform, a focus on making sure small businesses are able to receive affordable health coverage is being called a top priority at a joint press conference with the National Federation of Independent Business and (NFIB) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
On the accessibility of affordable medical insurance coverage, Dan Danner, the CEO and president of the NFIB, stated his thoughts on the importance of this matter: “We must work together to pursue creative, private market solutions to what has become an unsustainable problem for small businesses – increasing small group health insurance costs.” He continued by adding, “It is imperative that insurance market reform – specifically in the individual health and small group health insurance markets – leads to greater access to larger pools, increased portability and competitive choices.”
The AHIP conducted a nationwide tour of the United States to get opinions and stories directly from the American people in regards to their experiences with health care institutions. The people with whom they talked to were also asked for their ideas for health care reform. During their conference the AHIIP released their findings to the joint committee.
· Small group health insurance premiums averaged $913 per month for family medical plans and $346 for individual medical coverage.
· Health insurance premiums ranged from as low as $198 a month in Washington to $504 a month in Alaska.
· Companies with more employees generally paid less than companies with fewer employees.
· Forty-one percent of businesses had an HMO plan, 50% had a PPO and only 7% were enrolled in heath savings plans in 2008.
AHIP released a statement highlighting the specific needs and obstacles faced by small businesses, calling policymakers’ attention to difficulties faced by small businesses. The organization recently launched the “Campaign for an American Solution”, a new national grassroots and educational initiative to build support for workable health care reform based on core principles shared by the American people: coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability.
In a letter to key Senators last week, AHIP and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association offered to curb its practice of charging higher premiums to people with a history of medical problems. The offer from AHIP and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a potentially significant shift in the debate over overhauling the nation’s health care system to rein in costs and cover an estimated 48 million uninsured people. In the letter, the two insurance industry groups said their members are willing to “phase out the practice of varying premiums based on health status in the individual and family health insurance markets” if all Americans are required to get health insurance coverage.
“The offer here is to transition away from risk rating, which is one of the things that makes life hell for real people,” said health economist Len Nichols of the New America Foundation public policy center. “They have never in their history offered to give up risk rating.”
“This letter demonstrates that insurance companies are open to major insurance reform and are even willing to accept broad consumer protections,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., a moderate who could help bridge differences on a health care overhaul. “It represents a major shift from where the industry was in the 1990s during the last major health care debate.”
AHIP has published its proposal for health care reform to make medical insurance affordable, and they state: The U.S. could reduce total health care spending and improve the quality of patient care if the plan proposed today by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was implemented. PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewed AHIP’s proposals and estimates, and concluded that if these proposals are fully implemented, the nation’s total health care expenditures could be $145 billion lower than currently projected by the year 2015.
“Insurance companies offering individual medical coverage cannot hire and train new employees fast enough to keep up with the recent spike in private health insurance enrollments”, said Tom Carolan, Director of Client Services for BestHealthcareRates.com, a health insurance information website based in Arroyo Grande, California. Carolan continued, “the plight of the individual medical coverage market is the focus of much media attention, but it is vitally important to economic recovery that small businesses get help”.
Among all the groups possible, small business is one of the hardest hit in the current economic situation and the most vulnerable when it comes to finding affordable medical insurance coverage for their employees. Despite the many things we hear every day about the economy and health care reform, many small businesses do want to provide their people with coverage.
When a small business is looking for affordable group health plans there are a few things they know to look for in their prospects:
- Low Premiums – The less they have to pay for it the better.
- Affordable Medical Coverage Options – The more options the better.
- Flexibility – Giving the employees choices between different types of affordable coverage plans to fit their particular needs and budget.
- Consistency – Fees that don’t increase at any time.
One of the biggest complaints from most small businesses is the fear their rates will go up at any time and without any real warning. Because of the continual rising cost of medical treatment, finding consistently affordable health care coverage is becoming harder and harder to manage. Changing plans year to year, to find lower rates, is not an option for many of the owners.
When asked, a large percentage, almost 75%, of small business owners said they are more than willing to help offset the monthly premium costs for their employees. Some employers even stated they would be willing to raise their employee’s payroll by 4 to 7 percent to help with the rising costs of health care coverage.
The Government’s Role
Many small business owners, 75% of them, do support the government taking a bigger role in the reform of the health care system. Citing specific needs for more oversight and regulation of the medical industry as well as the health insurance industry to ensure access to quality and affordable health coverage for everyone.
There is also a call going out for a quality public alternative to private health care coverage. Because small business is so very vital to the survival of the economy, their cries and calls for change are being heard more now then ever before. Small business owners want affordable health care coverage, they are willing to contribute to make it happen and they want it now.
Small Business – The Lifeblood of the Nation
Small business plays a paramount role in the life of the nation’s economy by providing jobs and creating income. A number of factors are combining now to make the survival of these businesses harder and harder each and every day. The grim fact is simple, without some change or options made available to them; the future is bleak for small business owners.
Caught between a rock and a hard place is a good way to sum of the current plight of small businesses. Between the recession and rising health care costs, the small business owner is being squeezed out of existence. This is why it is so important to ensure the availability of affordable group health care plans for all small business owners.
Small businesses deserve affordable health coverage for the hard working employees they employ and themselves because everyone has a right to quality health care.
The first thing you need to do if you are trying to save money on student medical insurance is to find out the requirements for your college. This will ensure that you are being quoted on the proper amount of coverage. It will also ensure that you are not wasting time looking for your own individual policy when your college requires that you carry theirs. If you indeed have the right to purchase outside student health insurance, it may be to your benefit to find out more about the health clinic on campus, if there is one. Can you use it if you don’t have the college’s specific insurance? If you can, make sure you opt for a plan that has the clinic in its preferred network of providers.
Almost all colleges and universities offer student health insurance to those who attend their school. In fact for many schools, having health insurance is a requirement for admission. To make it easy on students, most colleges offer a group plan that is comprehensive and meets most students’ needs. In fact, your college may require you to carry this insurance. However, in most cases, you simply need to have some type of student health insurance that is at least as good as the one offered by the college. This leaves some room for you to find a more economical and tailored policy of your own.
Student health coverage insurance provided by colleges is basically the same as group medical insurance from an employer. It is a group policy, with everyone paying the same rate regardless of health and history. What this means is that even if you are very healthy and rarely see a doctor, you will pay the same amount as someone who has chronic health problems and needs continual healthcare. Healthy students who have the option of carrying their own individual medical insurance will often be able to save money because they will not be subsidizing healthcare for less healthy students.
By choosing to carry your own student health insurance you may also be able to save yourself additional money by tailoring your policy to your needs. If you are only concerned with insuring yourself in case of major illness or injury, you can get a policy which is designed to do just that. Such policies tend to be a bargain. You can also opt to raise co-insurance percentages, co-payments and deductibles for a lower monthly premium. You can choose to opt out of coverage you may not need often like dental, vision and prescription coverage. There are many discount providers on the market who can provide such services at a very low price now. Before making these changes, be sure to check on the health insurance requirements for your school to make sure you meet the minimum levels.
Colleges and universities choose to offer health insurance for the well-being of their students and the campus as a whole. It is a very convenient option, but not one that works best for every single student. If you are one of those who feel that the student medical insurance plan at your school is not for you or you would like to save money on insurance, you have many other student health insurance options available to you.