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Health Insurance Industry Listens to Health Care Concerns of Utah Small Business Owners
Date:8/27/2008

AHIP and Salt Lake Chamber host roundtable discussion as part of national

Campaign for an American Solution

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) today met with Utah small business owners at a roundtable discussion on health care issues at the Salt Lake Chamber.

The roundtable is part of the health insurance industry's Campaign for an American Solution, a new national grassroots and educational initiative to build support for workable health care reform based on core principles shared by the American people: coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability.

"Health system reform is our top priority," said Lane Beattie, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. "By employing private market principles and expanding accountability at all levels of the health system we can contain costs and improve quality of life."

"Affordable coverage for small businesses must be at the center of health care reform," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of AHIP, the national association of health insurers. "We have offered a reform plan that would not only make coverage more affordable for small businesses, but would also make it easier for their employees to accept coverage when it is offered."

Today's discussion with Utah small business owners is the latest in a series of conversations the health insurance industry is having with Americans from all walks of life -- those with coverage and those without, small business owners and employees, union leaders and members, physicians and other providers, and families from diverse communities.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the employer-paid portion of health insurance premiums for a Utah family was $10,975 in 2006, or double the rate in 2000. In 2006 alone, health care costs in Utah increased by twice the rate of earnings and more than double the rate of inflation. In Utah, 60% of businesses offer coverage to their employees today, down from 70% eight years ago. Gaps in coverage exist between large and small firms. While 90% of companies with 50 or more employees provide coverage, only 32% of firms with fewer than 50 employees provide health care for their workers.

AHIP's Board of Directors has developed comprehensive health care reform policy proposals that would ensure access to coverage for all Americans, reduce its cost and improve quality. Small businesses would benefit from AHIP proposals for health care reform that would:

-- Create a health care tax credit for working families. This proposal

would help employees contribute to the cost of employer-sponsored

coverage, thus reducing the number of workers who forego such benefits

because they cannot afford to pay their share of the premium. Tax

credits could also prompt more small businesses to offer employee

health benefits in the first place.

-- Give workers real portability with a new tax-free portable health

account that can be used to purchase any type of health care coverage.

Individuals, employers, the federal government and state governments

could all contribute to the account. This proposal would also assist

individuals in taking up employer-sponsored coverage and help them keep

their coverage when they are between jobs.

-- Encourage states to allow product flexibility so health insurance plans

can offer a wide variety of affordable coverage options to small

businesses. If state regulators allowed more flexible products more

small business owners could afford to offer coverage.

-- Provide $50 billion for a new Federal Performance Grant to assist the

states in expanding access to coverage. These funds would be used to

support a wide range of innovative initiatives, including reforms

targeted to help small employers.

-- Invest in comparative effectiveness to give all employers and employees

better information about the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of

competing medical treatments and technologies.

-- Reform the medical liability system to help control costs.

The Salt Lake Chamber actively engages in health system reform. To further the objectives of H.B. 133, Health System Reform, and at the request of the state legislature, the Chamber is working with the business community to form a consensus and present specific recommendations on health system reform.

About the Campaign for an American Solution

The Campaign for an American Solution is a non-partisan, educational and grassroots initiative of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national trade association whose members provide coverage to more than 200 million people. Our campaign is grounded in reform principles that are shared by the American people: coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability. Please visit http://www.americanhealthsolution.org for more information.

About the Salt Lake Chamber

The Salt Lake Chamber is Utah's largest business association and Utah's Business Leader. With roots that date back to 1887, the Chamber has been standing as the voice of business, supporting its members' success and championing community prosperity for over 100 years. The Chamber represents over 4,200 businesses statewide and one in every three jobs in the Utah economy. Chamber affiliate organizations include the Downtown Alliance and World Trade Center Utah.

America's Health Insurance Plans - Providing Health Benefits to More Than 200 Million Americans


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SOURCE America's Health Insurance Plans
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