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Health care costs could be biggest challenge for Mississippi businesses

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Oct 2011 04:35pm | comments
Webber addresses the crowd.

The sky rocketing cost of health care insurance is becoming a bigger drag on the bottom line for Mississippi businesses. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the rapidly rising cost of health insurance is stretching the resources of businesses trying to compete in a global economy.

Health care providers and business leaders met at Mississippi College yesterday to look for ways of cutting those costs but still provide health care to their employees.

MC business professor Marcelo Eduardo says the cost of health care could be the single biggest issue facing Mississippi businesses.

"The importance lies in two areas. One: There is an obvious cash outlay. A real expensive that every business has to watch or you cannot be viable. The other has to do with your ability to attract people," Eduardo said.

Health Insurance costs Farm Bureau Insurance five million dollars every year and company HR vice president Billy Sims expects that number to grow rapidly.

 

"You are probably doubling your cost every four to five years. So you can project that out every four to six years you are doubling your cost, that is a big cost," Sims said.

The economic pressure could become so intense that businesses start asking their employees be healthier, to reduce how much they access health care services and increase productivity says Andy Webber with the National Business Coalition on Health.

Webber says businesses could also put heavy pressure on insurance companies to provide cheaper or more innovative products.

"In putting in place pay for performance strategies. They could come to us with more innovative benefit design concepts that would get the individual consumer more engaged. So they are a critical partner and agent for us," Webber said.

Mississippi is currently working on a health insurance exchange, an insurance marketplace required by the recent health care reform law....If the exchange functions well, Webber thinks it could tempt some businesses offer health insurance vouchers to employees to buy their own insurance, or drop their plans altogether.



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