Page 28 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - June 2019
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HEALTH INSURANCE


            Finding the Best Plan for Your Employees


                                                   By Phillip M. Perry
         With health insurance premiums rising faster than inflation, employers continue to
         search for affordable coverage. The Trump administration is attempting to reduce costs
         by broadening the availability of less expensive health care alternatives. Employers,
         however, need to make sure that such plans provide sufficient coverage for expensive
         medical procedures.



               ow  do  you  find  good  health  in-
               surance for your employees? It’s
         Ha tough question, with answers
         that never seem to get easier. The chal-
         lenge is especially acute for businesses
         with too few people to bargain effec-
         tively with insurance carriers.
           “Affordability continues to be a chal-
         lenge for smaller employers,” says Mi-
         chael Thompson, President and CEO
         of The National Alliance of Healthcare
         Purchaser  Coalitions,  a Washington,
         D.C.,-based  umbrella  organization
         of some 12,000 employers and other
         health insurance purchasers in nearly                                                                  Illustration ©RaStudio | iStockphoto
         40 states. “They are looking for any
         solution that can help them sustain af-
         fordable coverage.”

         COSTS RISE                         has been fighting the ACA and there has   insurance  are enrolled in a program
           The latest figures show the extent of   been some turmoil legislatively, as well   such as a Preferred Provider Organiza-
         the problem. The average family pre-  as through regulatory actions and the   tion or an HMO, according to Kaiser.
         mium for employer-provided  health   judicial system. All of this has created   The ACA, of course, was intended to
         insurance  has hit $19,616, according   uncertainty about the law as a whole.”  help lower costs as well as increase ac-
         to the “2018 Employer Health Benefits   Indeed, the very survivability of the   cess to care. Did it do so? The answer is
         Survey” from the Kaiser Family Foun-  ACA  is  under  question,  given  the  late-  “yes” for one group of employers: Those
         dation (kff.org). That represents a rise   2018  decision  by  a  federal  judge  invali-  with poor experience ratings resulting
         of five percent from the previous year,   dating the law. The judge did not bar its   when one or more employees incur ex-
         a pace far greater than the 2.6 percent   enforcement until the Supreme Court can   pensive  treatment.  “Prior  to  the  ACA,
         wage  hike  and  2.5  percent  inflation   resolve the issue—a task which is not ex-  employers with big health care bills were
         clocked over the same time period.   pected to be accomplished before 2020.  particularly challenged in getting insur-
           The new figure continues a long-term   Despite the changeable environment,   ance at a reasonable cost,” says Thomp-
         trend, notes the Kaiser report: Over the   employers must deal with the ACA as   son. “These employers can now purchase
         past 10 years average family premiums   it now  stands, says  Stich.  “Maybe it   policies at the same rate as employers
         have increased 55 percent, twice as fast as   will end up in the Supreme Court, but   with good experience ratings.”
         workers’ earnings (26 percent) and three   the fact remains that the ACA is still   Beyond such extreme cases, though,
         times as fast as inflation (17 percent).  the law of the land.”       ACA’s effect on  premiums is less  cer-
           Employers searching for the right cov-                              tain. “The guaranteed issue  require-
         erage find themselves navigating a con-  MODERATING TREND             ments of the ACA did improve access
         fusing and shifting terrain. Making the   While no one likes escalating costs,   to coverage but did not necessarily im-
         picture murkier are recent challenges to   the Kaiser survey offers a bit of good   prove affordability,” says Thompson.
         the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the fed-  news: insurance rate increases have ac-  And employers in general have a love-
         eral legislation passed in 2010 to solve   tually been slowing down. “Family pre-  hate relationship with the law. “The
         the health insurance conundrum.    miums increased 20 percent from 2013   general attitude of employers toward the
           “The recent upheavals in the market-  to 2018,” says Gary Claxton, a Kaiser   ACA is a mixed bag,” says Cheryl Lar-
         place have been challenging for employ-  vice president. “That pace is less than   son, President & CEO of Midwest Busi-
         ers,” says Julie Stich, Associate Vice   the 29 percent and 40 percent increases   ness Group on Health, a Chicago-based
         President of Content at the Interna-  during the previous five-year periods.”   consortium of 125 employers of some
         tional Foundation of Employee Benefit   What’s causing the moderation? One   40,000 workers (mbgh.org). “Employers
         Plans  (IFEBP),  Brookfield,  Wisconsin   big factor is managed care: Nearly all   do like some of the law’s provisions. They
         (ifebp.org). “The current administration   employees with employer-based health        continued on page 30

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