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Ready or not, health reform is coming

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Articles - November 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Finding a better deal

1110_HealthGraph03Amid all the talk these days about annual increases to companies’ insurance plans, Eugene-based Pacific Continental Bank enjoyed an almost unheard-of windfall last year: Monthly premiums dropped 2% to 3%.

The bank, which employs 274 mostly full-time people, realized those savings by shopping around for a better deal. Pacific is also partially self-insured, which makes it less susceptible to market trends and impacted more by employees’ use of health care.

“Our employees were just healthier and there were fewer big claims,” says Rachel Ulrich, executive vice president and human resources director.

The bank currently offers employees a basic plan and also the option to buy up into an expanded plan. Pacific covers 100% of the basic plan for full-time employees and covers about 70% of the cost for family members. Ulrich says the company, which saw revenues of $58.4 million in 2009, spends about $1.7 million on health care each year.

Pacific is not, however, anticipating further cost decreases similar to last year. For starters, Ulrich says annual claims run in cycles, so last year was probably just the low end of that pattern. Second, one of the provisions of the new health reform law allows young adults up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ health insurance plans.

“That’s probably going to be one of the biggest impacts for us,” says Ulrich, who herself has a 23-year-old son in the restaurant industry who could benefit from the coverage. “We may have to look at our family plans if use goes up as a result of that provision.”

She says Pacific might be able to absorb some future cost increases that come from federal reforms or continued upward trends; more than likely, however, the bank may have to look at charging higher co-pays or employee contributions toward premiums.

Though financial reform is tops on Pacific’s list at the moment, health care still ranks high among the bank’s primary business concerns. As for the new health care legislation and its impacts on Pacific Continental, the verdict is still out and probably will be for a while.

“It’s too early to say if it’s going to be good or bad,” Ulrich says. “I applaud the government for trying to find a way to fix health care. I’m just not sure this is it.”



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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