Small Businesses Face Higher Premiums, Push For Access To ‘Exchanges’
"As Congress nears votes on legislation that would overhaul the health care system, many small businesses say they are facing the steepest rise in insurance premiums they have seen in recent years," the New York Times reports. "The higher premiums at least partly reflect the inexorable rise of medical costs, which is forcing Medicare to raise premiums, too. Health insurance bills are also rising for big employers, but because they have more negotiating clout, their increases are generally not as steep." The increases could be politically inconvenient for insurance companies, which continue efforts to ward off a proposed government-run health insurance plan (Abelson, 10/24).
Meanwhile, "[s]mall business groups are lobbying Congress to allow firms with as many as 100 employees to purchase health insurance through new exchanges that would be created through health care reform legislation," Portfolio.com reports. The Web-based exchanges allow consumers to pick between standardized benefits packages offered by different companies, and compare insurers based on price. The exchanges proposed in the Senate Finance Committee bill would also allow companies to purchase coverage from insurers in different states, which is currently not allowed (Hoover, 10/26).
The Tampa Tribune: "The cost of health insurance is the number one concern of small business owners, according to a new report released by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills. The report, 'Insurance at Risk: Small Business Employees Risk Losing Coverage,' examines the health care status quo that has left employees at risk of losing their insurance and underscores the financial difficulties small businesses face when providing health insurance to their employees. The complete report is available now at www.HealthReform.gov" (10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.