Health care reform

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two major Southeast Missouri employers have recently said they will see higher health insurance costs next year.

The Cape Girardeau School District could -- if the proposed plan is accepted -- face a 10 percent increase in their health insurance premiums. The increase was targeted to be closer to 20 percent, however this forecast was changed after raising deductibles, prescription drug copays and charges for office visits in the district's basic preferred provider organization health insurance plan.

Southeast Missouri State University also recently announced changes to its health insurance policies. The university will continue to pay 100 percent of premiums on the high deductible plan. However, employees that want to purchase the lower deductible plan will pay a portion of the premium. Copays will be higher for all plans.

The school district and university are not the only organizations that are facing rising health care costs. Employers both large and small, public and private are preparing for increased health care costs. Human resources consultant Hewitt Associates said in a recent report that employers will see a premium increase next year of 8.8 percent on average.

While there are some uncontrollable factors contributing to the increasing premiums -- more advanced health care technologies, an aging population, a longer life expectancy among others -- one prominent reason is the new health care law.

While the law will not be fully implemented until 2014, implementation will begin next year, and the health care industry is already bracing for its impact.

Now is the time for legislators to re-evaluate the law and make changes to prevent further economic pressures on businesses and individuals.

Health care reform is needed. However, reforms need to incentivize insurance, not put mandates on employers that will astronomically increase costs.

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