Health care reform is now the law of the land — or is it?
Emery Benefit Solutions, LLC
How and what you implement is dependent on your business. Find a consultant talented enough to respect your business to maintain who you are and simply help you become a better you.
Over the past two years, I have devoted much of my time to understanding PPACA, which also meant understanding how our legislative and executive bodies of government work along with the people voted in to run them. This has become my business. I knew that if I wanted a business in the future, I had to be educated (and not just because my business is in employee benefits). I want to share a glimpse of what I have learned with you.
For those of you that think we are doomed because Romney did not win and now PPACA will not be repealed: Do not allow health care reform to drown your business. I will tell you, it never could be in its entirety, anyway. Also, since our officials are elected, very few in the higher positions would risk eliminating the parts that people like and risk their careers. For those of you that are elated that Obama has won and believe our healthcare woes are solved, we know that is just not true. We now have an even larger beast to reign in. Welcome to our new reality.
OK, politics aside. We have businesses to run. What effect will it have on our businesses? Well, that really depends on your business: employee make up, how many employees, type of employees, etc. There are and will be plenty of calculators to determine what this thing will cost you if you continue to offer benefits versus not. But let’s get honest with ourselves for a moment. Why do you offer benefits? Write it down. Remember, we are talking about your business. Your sweat and tears. We want to think this through. If we are going to spend money, we want to get something out of it. We really do not get anything out of a penalty.
Now take a look at your list. It may look something like this: Attract and retain the best employees, to have healthy, productive employees, to control the bottom line, increase profitability. Right? So how do you maintain this without blowing up the budget? We all know reform as it stands will not lower the cost of insurance or health care. If anything, it will increase it. Honestly, I will argue whether or not this was even insurance reform. Insurance carriers have a lot to gain from this law, at least in the beginning. I suggest you, the employer, take control. There is only one way to reduce health care costs and PPACA does not address it. So, what can you, as a business owner or executive, do to keep control of your business and its costs? Answer: Stop playing the game. “What game?” you ask. The quoting game. You may even think you are above this, because you have a “consultant” that actually brings some pretty creative ideas to the table and explains things. Bravo — you are a few steps ahead of many. However, the “solutions” don’t last, do they? Now, you may be saying, “I know where you are going, Sue — self funding and/or wellness — that doesn’t and won’t work for us.” I am here to ask you, “Have you tried?” If you did and it didn’t work, it isn’t your fault. It was set up and serviced incorrectly. It does work in so many areas of your business, not just health care. This is something I discovered on the journey of understanding our legislature and how people think.
If we do not understand how people think then we can not affect their behavior. If we are not affecting behavior correctly, we are not getting results. Most people do not understand this, or if they do, they are not able to tie it into their business so they get and are tracking the results as it pertains to their business — not just the health of their employees. If they do, results are quicker and more quantitative.
Also, this is not just for the big dogs. I have spent my life in small business. I love it. There is a dynamic that large corporations just cannot hold onto. That said, I also make the argument that this solution is easier for smaller businesses and hence, they get faster results. Granted, they all may not be able to self fund, but it does open up the door to a case full of products that they may have been too afraid to consider because they didn’t understand their employee make up. So, why should you even do this, and what really does it have to do with PPACA? Many of you are not forced to comply anyway, right? Even if you do not have to comply, this will affect your business. Your employees go to the exchanges and purchase health care or, worse yet, they don’t get any at all because it is too overwhelming, time consuming and complicated. Now you have many employees, possibly, not seeking care and risking health and financial issues. We all know this affects our business. It’s just that we have not been able to figure out just how much. Wouldn’t you love to know this number?
This system is confusing. Employees have looked to their employer for decades to provide them with solutions. It is a relationship, we cannot deny. Now, suddenly, for many of them, this “luxury” may be taken away from them and they are thrown into a world that they have never known. It is confusing enough for those of us that deal with it on a daily basis. I cannot imagine how the everyday Joe will navigate this.
Once we admit that we would like to control the seemingly uncontrollable, we can look for solutions. Yes, the truth is we cannot control people. However, we can influence their behavior. Great businesses have figured this out. We can mimic them. Secondly, we need to stop compartmentalizing. Good news, small businesses do this less than larger ones. We wear many hats. The difficult part is we never have the time to see the connections, the opportunities. If you do nothing else for your business this year, find an outsider that can see this for you. People are people, no matter your industry. They change your perspective to make what you do better.
So is health care reform really the law of the land? The only truth I know for sure is that how we do business has changed. What that exactly will look like is up to us. So, PPACA is not necessarily the end all; not if we do not want it to be. It does not have to take over your business. Note: I am not saying you have to break any laws. What I am saying is that I am all about finding ways to keep our businesses in business and profitable, no matter what Washington does. Though there is only one solution, as I alluded to above: How and what you implement is dependent on your business. Find a consultant talented enough to respect your business to maintain who you are and simply help you become a better you.