U.S. Companies Tackle Employer-Sponsored Health System
A group of more than 100 of the largest U.S. companies on Wednesday introduced a proposal that would encourage employees to obtain individual health and retirement plans rather than obtaining them directly through their employers, the Tennessean reports.
The ERISA Industry Committee -- which includes companies such as General Motors, FedEx and IBM -- said at a press conference in Washington, D.C., that the group seeks to reduce employer administrative costs, which add about 20% to the cost of health care delivery.
The proposal would allow employees to obtain portable health plans and have the ability to determine the cost of medical procedures in advance, according to the committee. Under the proposal, two or three rival "benefit administrators" would offer health and retirement plans, and employees would obtain plans that meet their needs, the committee said. The proposal also would allow employers to offer health and retirement plans to employees.
In addition, the proposal calls for uniform tax treatment for all U.S. residents, regardless of whether they obtain health and retirement plans directly through their employers -- a recommendation that would require Congress to revise the U.S. tax code (Ward, Tennessean, 6/14).
The plan also includes an individual health insurance mandate, but it does not include a requirement for contributions on employers (Young, The Hill, 6/14).
Committee members said that they will seek to raise support for the proposal over the next two years and lobby Congress to pass legislation to implement the plan in 2009.
Committee spokesperson Ted Godbout said that the proposal seeks "to make it more administratively efficient and to also bring more of a consistent level of benefit and open it to everybody -- not just big businesses and small businesses." He added, "Everybody would have access to the plans" (Tennessean, 6/14). The plan is available online.