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.
Let’s assume next year we face an increase of 25 percent in the premium cost of our health insurance. That increase will make the company’s share go up to approximately $190,000. As a company we could save roughly $90,000 and see our staff get far better coverage than we can afford to give them. But that choice, as tempting as it may appear on the surface, is a double edged sword as thousands of employers will likely take the same step. The problem then becomes how can the government pay for that insurance? The only answer is they will have to increase taxes, thus removing the choices small business and their employees now have available to them to control costs.
Having a government provided health plan continues to move our country and its people away from self dependence and more toward government dependence and entitlement. As a proud people we once took great pride in supporting ourselves and our freedom to make our own decisions and control our own lives without the interference of Big Brother. AHCA serves as just another chink in the armor of the American Freedom we so value. As tempting as the package sounds I believe it is not in our country’s long term best interest, especially since much of the act is still not defined and the true costs are unknown. I’m all for equal access to affordable health care but this plan runs contrary to the basic principles of our free society.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org