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Industry Insight

Small-Business Groups Find Little Common Ground on Healthcare Reform

Small and medium printing businesses confronting the rising costs of employee health insurance may be able to relate to these stories of other small firms facing the same uphill struggle.

By Patrick Henry
Published: June 11, 2009

Small and medium printing businesses confronting the rising costs of employee health insurance may be able to relate to these stories of other small firms facing the same uphill struggle. The stories are brought to us by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), an advocacy group that claims to represent 16 million small employers. NFIB believes that all Americans should have access to quality care and protection against catastrophic costs. It also wants a “government safety net” to enable the neediest to obtain coverage. However, NFIB’s affinity for national health care proposals being developed by the Obama administration ends there. One of its “10 principles” of healthcare reform holds that “to the greatest extent possible Americans should receive their health insurance and healthcare through the private sector. Care must be taken to minimize the extent to which governmental safety nets crowd out private insurance and care.” But the Small Business Majority, an alliance claiming 27 million constituents, thinks that the reform scenarios put forth by the Obama administration can provide just the kind of cost relief that small businesses need. It commissioned a study—the subject of an article in today’s New York Times—that states: "Small businesses will be far better off under a thoughtfully reformed healthcare system based on shared responsibility among individuals, business, government and the healthcare industry—as long as such a system includes provisions that reflect the particular financial constraints faced by small businesses. "Under the models considered, shared responsibility includes tax credits to enable small business owners to better afford coverage options (based on the size of the business), coupled with a payment, on a sliding scale, to be made by employers who don’t offer health insurance (also based on the size of the business)." The report, which can be downloaded here, also concludes that “in just about every case, reform would likely reduce costs, save jobs, preserve wages, bolster profits and virtually eliminate ‘job lock’ when compared to doing nothing.” (“Job lock,” said to affect one in 16 workers currently insured by their employers, is the fear of losing benefits that deters people from looking for other jobs.) What’s your story of struggling to provide health coverage for your employees? What role—if any—do you believe the government should have in halting the profit-killing spiral of health insurance costs?

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.



By mattf on Jun 12, 2009

Patrick: Reform will reduce costs and save jobs. However, we cannot leave it up to the government. Many healthcare industry giants are tackling this issue as we speak. They see a growing trend that their services are becoming unaffordable. One of the biggest things that will change is a direction of Preventative Medicine. This is the best way to reduce costs. Low cost for Preventative Medicine, but a net to help out for the emergency stuff. Also, many healthcare organizations are looking into lean. A great report, albeit short, was made on CBS. http://www.leanblog.org/2009/06/virginia-mason-and-lean-healthcare-on.html


By Joe on Jun 12, 2009

Until we have a healthcare system that places more emphasis on the consumer to spend their healthcare dollars wisely and gives them a greater incentive to take better care of themselves, the cost of healthcare will continue to rise out of control. Anyone that thinks that government can follow through on the promise of a low cost, efficient healthcare system needs to be reminded of what happened every time Lucy held the ball for Charlie Brown to kick. We have offered high deductible, health savings accounts to our employees for the last several years. The premiums are about 20% lower than conventional HMO plans. Those that have it have definitely spent their health care dollars more wisely, as they are responsible for more of the upfront costs than an HMO.


By TerryNeese on Jun 15, 2009

While government run healthcare may seem like a good quick fix to our ever growing healthcare problem, in the long run it will only drastically raise costs and make it impossible for us to exercise choice in our healthcare decisions. A government competitor in the market will only drive private sector businesses out of the market, giving the government the ability to drive prices, make decisions, and control the entire market. It would be best to fix the system we currently have in order to make healthcare more affordable. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are the main reason why so many Americans go uninsured. If we were to allow them some leniency within our currently rigid system, they could cut costs dramatically. They should be allowed to reach across state lines and band together to spread risk and increase bargaining power and be allowed to purchase individually owned plans, like health savings accounts, for their employees using pretax dollars. Simple reforms can make a big difference. www.familyissues.ncpa.org


By John on Jun 16, 2009

America's healthcare system is the most costly and least efficient of industrialized nations. The reason is, we confuse "health care" with "health insurance." People need health care everywhere; but in the U.S., to get quality health care you need quality (i.e., costly) health insurance. Eliminate those middlemen and the costs will drop. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (of which the U.S. is a long-standing member), the U.S. spends $6,714 per capita on healthcare -- double the spending in countries like Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Second highest is Switzerland at $4,520, and only two other nations, Norway and Luxembourg, cross the $4,000 per-capita mark. Our per-capita spending on prescription and nonprescription drugs is $843, compared with $639 in Canada, $500 in Germany, and $303 in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the only industrialized nation with life expectancy under 78 years. Other countries all have life expectancies between 80 and 82 years. And our infant mortality statistics -- an accepted measure of healthcare quality -- are equally embarassing: we rank 27th on that scale. If we are to prosper as a nation, we need to take care of ourselves as a national. United we stand, divided we fall. By skimming huge profits from the current system, heathcare insurers are only ensuring that health insurance costs will increase at the expense of health care.


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