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News for the week of 04-19-2006

Putting a Band-Aid on small firms' health costs
USA Today, 4-19-06

Editor's Notes:

Small businesses—which are hit hardest by rising health insurance costs—are finding very creative ways to offer basic (and affordable) health coverage to their employees, including HSAs.

Small businesses are driven crazy by soaring employee health costs, an expense that surveys show has become the biggest headache and obstacle to growth. Now, a growing army of consultants and benefits experts are promoting new health plans and services aimed at owners desperate to rein in costs.

Insurance brokers customize plans for small firms. Insurers cut deals for owners launching on–the–job worker "wellness" programs. Professional employer organizations combine dozens of small firms into big employee groups for discounted rates. And Health Savings Accounts crafted by Congress are now part of small firms' arsenal.

There aren't any silver bullets, says Ivy Silver, founder of Commonwealth Consulting Group near Philadelphia, which helps small employers create benefits plans. "They have to use some of the same techniques large employers are using," she says.

[permanent link]



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