Business health

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post

If there's anything more discouraging than the rising cost of health care, it's the expense of health-care insurance. The discouragement is even greater if you happen to work for or own one of the countless small businesses which, because of the cost, offer no health benefits whatsoever or only plans with large deductibles and small coverage.

U.S. Sen. Jim Talent is touting legislation that would allow the creation of Association Health Plans. Passage of the bill would open the door so that trade associations could offer national health-care plans to their small business members, who could then purchase health insurance for themselves, their employees and their families.

It is estimated that the competition created by AHPs would cut the cost of health insurance premiums for small businesses by at least 10 percent.

One of the most appealing benefits of Talent's plan ... is that no taxpayer dollars will be needed.

It is estimated that approximately 44 million people in the U.S. don't have health insurance. Of that total, 60 percent or more are associated in some way with a small business, either as the owner, employee or dependent of an owner or employee. It appears that Talent's AHP initiative could provide a health-care safety net that many Americans currently consider an unaffordable luxury.

In the U.S. House, the AHP legislation has received bipartisan support in recent years. We urge the Senate to not only push this initiative beyond the committee level, but to approve it. Don't allow the lobbyists for big insurance companies to stand in the way of passing legislation that will aid millions of Americans.

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