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Michigan Business & Professional Association Urges Legislature to Act Quickly on Individual Health Care Reform

WARREN, Mich., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The weak Michigan economy, rising health care costs, staggering business tax increases, and increased energy costs are all converging to create a perfect storm for Michigan's small business community. And a critical lifeline -- affordable health care coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan -- is in danger of being lost, according to the Michigan Business and Professional Association and its sister organization, the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, representing more than 20,000 business members that employ over 180,000 individuals throughout the State of Michigan.

"Individual health care reform is needed now in Michigan to ensure the financial stability of our members and all small businesses," said Jennifer Kluge, associations' chief operating officer. "We receive countless phone calls a week from our members possibly canceling their group health insurance because they can no longer afford it and this year has been the worst."

Kluge explained that cancellation of any small business' health care coverage causes its employees to be thrust into the marketplace to shop for their own health care (sometimes with lesser coverage), often a daunting task which potentially puts millions of people at risk of having no coverage at all.

"We need the legislature to act now on individual health care reform by supporting House Bills 5282 and 5283," said Kluge. "It's up to our elected representatives to protect the health care of our members and millions of people in Michigan who desperately need it in these tough economic times."

When employees who have lost coverage go to the market, it's often the case that the younger and healthier individuals are offered lower-priced coverage from private insurance companies, leaving the older, less healthy and at-risk population being covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as the state's insurer of last resort.

"This current system is flawed. Blue Cross needs help in balancing the high risk pool to continue to serve as our insurer of last resort," said Kluge, noting that the nonprofit Blues currently covers 84 percent of the individual market's unhealthy consumers, with a majority being age 55 and older. "The Blues cannot afford to serve in this capacity much longer. The impact on small business is immeasurable and grave. We feel strongly our economy will suffer if these bills do not pass in the near future."

This proposed legislation, added Kluge, provides individuals and their family several options with fair pricing, a guarantee of obtaining coverage, shields consumers from rate hikes, and ensures a safety net in the market to minimize the uninsured.



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SOURCE Michigan Business & Professional Association
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