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Controlling Health Costs: Chamber/CAHC Event Recap

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - On Tuesday, I attended a Chamber of Commerce event entitled, “Controlling Costs: The Price of Good Health”. Mike Beene, our Senior Health Policy Advisor, spoke on behalf of the self-employed, as mentioned in a previous blog post. It was great to see the NASE represented among heavy hitters like Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama Nancy-Ann DeParle

I thought the speakers were very interesting, and the more and more I go to these kind of events, the more I realize that health care is integral to not just for health’s sake, but also for the fiscal health of our nation. It truly is one of the biggest challenges the country is facing today.

Some highlights:

Sylvester Schieber, former Vice President of U.S. Benefits, presented research that said for the majority of workers, the health care expenses they incur each year – and the inflation that goes with them – are hidden from the ‘naked eye’ because they are financed through compensation packages. According to Schieber, however, health benefits have become so large that they are now contributing to the noticeable slowdown in workers’ pay and income growth.

Nikola Swann, Credit Analyst at
Standard & Poor’s, talked about global aging and how it will affect health care issues in the future. Swann said population aging will lead to profound changes in economic growth prospects for countries around the world, including the United States. He said structural reforms to pension and health care systems are needed to avoid a catastrophe.

And of course, Mike Beene, the NASE’s Senior Health Policy Advisor, pointed out to the audience that 77.6% of U.S. small businesses are self-employed. He also shared some startling statistics from the NASE’s Health Coverage
survey published in June 2008: 46.8% of the self-employed offer health insurance through their business (either for the owner or the employee), and the percentage whose plans covers all or some of their full-time employees fell from 46.2% to 18.6% in 2008. That kind of drop just shocks me, and the numbers don’t lie: Health insurance coverage is too expensive.

Beene mentioned that another point of concern is the individual mandate. Not only will the self-employed be required by law to purchase health coverage that is more expensive and less flexible than their current coverage, they will receive no financial assistance to help pay for the coverage. That kind of policy is the wrong policy.

To wrap it up in a sentence: Health care is too expensive, not flexible enough, and much needed of reform.  To learn more, visit The Coalition for Affordable Health Care, of which the NASE is a member.

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