HMO REFORM: Employers Willing To Pay A Little Extra
"Small business may be less skeptical of a government hand in health care than is commonly believed, according to a survey on trends in employer-provided health insurance released yesterday," Newsday reports (McCrummen, 6/18). The survey by the Kaiser-Harvard Program on the Public and Health/Social Policy found that only a small percentage of businesses -- 1% to 3% -- said they would pass any increased costs from managed care protections on to employees; approximately 9% "said they would pass the entire cost on to employees." The AP/Los Angeles Times reports that approximately 35% of the 800 executives who responded to the survey "said they would pass on some costs to employees," while "45% to 50% said they would absorb the entire cost" (6/18).
Who's The Boss?
When asked how they feel about specific consumer protection standards, small-business executives showed the strongest support for mandates that require health plans to provide addition information on how they operate (89%) and to allow appeals of health plan decisions (88%). Eighty-four percent of respondents favored requiring direct access to OB/GYNs, 75% favored direct access to specialists, 77% favored the removal of limits on coverage of emergency room visits and 61% supported allowing patients to sue health plans. The executives overwhelming supported the development and enforcement of health plan standards by a non-government, independent organization (62%); 14% said the managed care industry should regulate itself and 12% said it should be regulated by the government (Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard release, 6/17).
Pay Or Play
The AP/Los Angeles Times reports that the survey indicates that "small-business owners are preparing to pay a little more for their employees' benefits if it helps them hold on to experienced workers." Catherine Hoffman of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, said "There's a tighter job market. [Businesses] must offer benefits in order to compete" (6/18). The survey information "refutes claims that health insurance cost increases" due to "managed care regulation legislation would force" businesses to drop employee coverage, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. Kaiser Family Foundation President Dr. Drew Altman called the employer support for reform "surprising," but noted that with many saying they would pass the cost increases on to employees, "in health reform there is no free lunch" (Rovner, 6/17).