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Ready or not, health reform is coming

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Articles - November 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Absorbing the increases

1110_HealthGraph02Alan Mills, chief executive officer of the Beaverton architectural software firm Axium, sees health care reform from two different viewpoints.

“If I look at it from the company’s perspective, it’s an added cost that gives us zero benefit,” he says. “But as a business person and from the community and the U.S. standpoint, I can certainly see the benefit of having more people covered.”

Axium currently provides its 60 employees with 100% coverage through Providence Health Plans. The company also covers 45% of the cost of family members, and it contributes $75 a month into Health Reimbursement Accounts for employees to help with deductibles and co-pays.

Mills says Axium has faced sharp increases in health care costs over the past few years but has taken some steps to help minimize or at least control them. A large bump four years ago led Axium to up its plan deductible, and when another 12% increase loomed for July 2009, the company tweaked co-pays, prescription coverage and out-of-network services payments. The result: an increase of just 3.5%.

This year, however, the company was hit with an increase of nearly 21%. But rather than try to wring out even more savings, Axium absorbed the increase — about the cost of one full-time employee, Mills says — and even upped the family coverage from 35% to 45%.

Mills says federal reform probably won’t impact how the company provides insurance to employees. However, higher personal income taxes that will pay for some of the new reforms might have a more tangible effect.

“Some of those changes to personal income taxes are going to push up for business owners,” he says, “and anytime you take dollars out of any type of business, it’s going to impact the number of employees you have on staff.”

Under federal reform, businesses with 50 employees or more that don’t offer insurance face a per-employee penalty of $2,000 or more. While that may sound steep — and may send many more people to the insurance exchanges with federal subsidies — it may be a more affordable option for some employers.

“We wouldn’t foresee going that route unless the care was much better than we currently offer,” Mills says. “Whatever the case, if [reform] ends up costing us a lot more money, then we’re going to have to look at our entire cost structure.”



0 #1 It's Early Enough and the News is All BadLisa 2010-10-26 11:47:30
This bill was not about healthcare it was about government control. It has added burdensome regulations, totally unrelated to healthcare (the 1099 requirements for purchases), took over student loans and requires hiring of tens of thousands of IRS agents. What does this have to do with healthcare? NOTHING.

They did nothing to reduce costs such as tort reform or allowing purchases across state lines, or relief from all of the mandates. They got rid of HSAs that gave PATIENTS control over healthcare dollars. Do you want to know WHY costs of insurance go up? Require more services, require all companies to take on the high risk customers instead of funding a 'high risk' pool for those who find insurance difficult or impossible to purchase.

This bill was written by lawyers, for lawyers and will require the hiring of even more lawyers. It's enough to make anyone sick!
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