The Health Insurance Debacle

Realizing the risk of total ostracism from my conservative friends, I’m going to write it anyway:

I hope that Hillary wins the election.

There, that’s over with. Now I can explain myself. Things are broken now, but our elected officials are still trying to put them back together in a weak, kind of half-witted sort of way. Poor Richard’s hypothesis is that after 8 years of Hillary, the United States will be so irrevocably broken that we’ll have to start all over again. Maybe then we can elect responsible people to put it back together in the way that the founding fathers intended.

It’s just difficult to resist an occasional political diatribe. I’m afraid that last week’s headlines have provoked one. Here’s what the headline read:

Number of Uninsured Jumps to 47 Million.

15.4% of the population is now uninsured. That means that the other 84.6% are paying for their healthcare in one way or another. In the South, the percentage uninsured is higher – 18%. Only 34% of small businesses my size (10 people or less) offer health insurance for their employees. And those of us in the 34% are wondering how we’re going to continue.

This has been a struggle for 10 years and I’ve almost reached the breaking point. Alphagraphics has used the services of several PEO (Professional Employers Organizations) firms to try to short circuit the devastating premiums that insurance companies charge small groups. Essentially, the PEO is the employer of record. In our case, AlphaGraphics’ employees are technically employees of a Conyers based company. We are pooled with other small businesses who also used the PEO’s services to theoretically procure lower health insurance rates.

I don’t think the insurance companies like the arrangement very much. We’ve had to change PEO’s about every three years as their insurance options dwindled. The company we’re with now is the best we’ve ever had, but we just received our premium notice for next year. The increase was over 30%. Our premium for a single employee will be in excess of $3600 per year. My family’s premium will be more than $12,000. That’s more than I earned in the early days of my career and a more than measurable chunk of what I take home now.

A couple of weeks ago, Guv’nah Sunny made a big announcement. He proposes a subsidy to help small businesses buy insurance for employees who are not currently covered. No details yet, but Sunny made one thing perfectly clear. Small businesses who currently offer insurance for their employees aren’t allowed in. I can’t put a finger on it, but that just chaps me a little.

When our state senator, Ross Tolleson, first ran for the Senate we talked about this issue. AlphaGraphics was new, we had one employee with a bad health history, and it was nearly impossible to get coverage. Ross was all for legislation that would allow small businesses to pool together to purchase health insurance. He had been a small business person and understood the problem. I was encouraged.

Six months after his election, I ran into Ross again and asked about the idea. He had developed amnesia . . . didn’t recall the conversation. It wasn’t even on his radar screen. I think the insurance companies got to him.

I know the insurers don’t like the idea, because California actually got an insurance pool for small businesses started. It even lasted for a couple of years . . . until all of the insurance companies pulled out. The small business pool idea was also introduced as part of a Senate bill in 2006 called HIMMAA, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act. Pronounce it like you’re clearing your throat. This bill got all tangled up in political wrangling and never made it to a vote. It was expectorated.

Which brings us back to Hillary. I make no prediction that the Empress in waiting will be capable of solving this gnarled up mess. But I do believe that in her efforts to implement governmental control, she might be very successful in completely destroying the system.

Maybe then we can give healthcare back to the free market. Maybe then patients will actually pay for healthcare services with real money and will buy the services they can afford. Maybe doctors and hospitals will also be subject to market forces and prices will be set according to John Maynard’s laws of supply and demand. Perhaps the providers will even charge patients who pay cash less than they would the insurance company who makes them wait 90 days for payment. Maybe even the insurance companies will learn to behave ethically and limit their intervention into the private lives of those they insure.

Maybe Hillary’s husband actually didn’t inhale.

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One Response to The Health Insurance Debacle

  1. Bruce Silver says:

    Rich, your story is the same experience that millions of american small employers live each year. Employers Rx focuses on helping small and midsize companies find the right Professional Employer Organization for their needs.

    There are several PEOs who offer attractive benefit plans from national health insurers like Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare. Most of these leading firms have experienced rate increases averaging less than 15% a year. They make a choice of plans available including Health Saving Accounts which can radically change the way we look at and purchase health insurance.

    Small employers have many excellent choices to select from. Like most busy executives, many don’t have the time, resources, or experience to scout out the marketplace, compare and evaluate the various proposals, or negotiate the best rates and terms.

    The administrative fee of $800 to $1200 per person is usually offset by the reduced of health insurance premiums, payroll, workers compensation, and HR compliance. Many successful business owners have found solutions to their employee administration, benefits, and compliance issues by partnering with qualified Professional Employer Organizations.

    If I can be of assistance , contact me at 561.843.4333 or visit our website at employers-Rx.com.

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