Insurers Offer Reform Concessions, But Balk At Small Business Demands
"Employer-provided medical insurance remains the bedrock of the nation's health care system. And yet, while most big employers still provide health benefits, soaring premiums have meant many small businesses can no longer afford to cover their workers," the New York Times reports. Some are concerned that many such businesses, those with fewer than 100 workers and which employ 40 percent of the labor force, will be left out of the health reform plan incubating in Congress. While insurers have offered key concessions to make it easier for individuals to buy insurance, saying they'll "sell policies even to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and to stop basing prices on how healthy or sick someone is," the companies appear unwilling to give small employers the same break.
In the current system, small employers are forced to buy coverage "much the same way individuals currently do." But while lawmakers have pressured insurers to loosen access to the individual market, they haven't pushed them to make sacrifices in the lucrative small business category. "Lobbyists for small employers argue that Congress should be forcing the same concessions from insurers in the small-business market that the industry has promised in the individual market," the Times reports (Abelson, 6/3).
Meanwhile, America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, is holding its annual conference Wednesday to discuss plans to "reduce health care costs and give customers more access," CNN Money reports. Given the uncertainties surrounding a potential health care overhaul, "everyone's walking on eggshells" at the San Diego meeting, Richard Kipp, an industry consultant, told CNN (Kavilanz, 6/3).