Editorial

Business owners now need the ACA facts

September 27, 2013
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Oct. 1 marks the first day of open enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges — or marketplaces — mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Business Journal is not entering the fray of the political philosophies close to imperiling the federal budget and its credit ratings, but offers facts for business owners who desire to get back to running their businesses rather than remain stymied in the morass of misinformation from those of every political stripe.

In 2007, the Alliance for Health, a 60-year-old nonprofit agency covering a major portion of the West Michigan region, was one of the organizations in 14 communities in the United States to receive a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to improve the quality of health care. Both research groups have provided the greatest depth of factual information to local businesses since the passage of the PPACA in 2010.

The Business Journal has reported on the escalation of health care premiums during more than a dozen consecutive years and of business owners’ consistent dread of how health insurance cost increases, amounting to almost 20 percent of the GDP, were adding to the cost of goods and services, making them less profitable in the world market.

There were few who did not argue that exploding health care costs presented a serious threat to the overall economy (and federal and state budgets). By every measure and study, the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world and some of the highest mortality rates.

To that point the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation notes the Affordable Care Act “hasn’t affected employer plans beyond adding some coverage such as keeping children on parents’ policy until age 26. Employers have had to pay increasingly more each year for the same coverage for decades.”

The Affordable Care Act has been widely embraced by every sector of the health care community including hospitals, nurses and physicians. The impending physician shortages are cited both universally and locally by Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids and Grand Valley State University’s expanding health professions school.

Matthew M. Davis, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and public policy at the University of Michigan, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “From my perspective as a policy researcher and the chief medial executive for the state of Michigan in the Department of Community Health, whether health care is a right or a privilege does not alter the fundamental challenge of allocating scarce resources in the U.S. health care system. Either way, as a country the United States must deal with the fact that the health care work force, facilities and funds are available only in finite quantities. By failing to coordinate, systematize or otherwise organize individuals’ pursuit of the national goals in the world of health care is misusing its common resources related to health.”

Bloomberg News reported in June that hospitals are improving care and saving millions of dollars with one of the least touted but potentially effective provisions of the law that cover patient “outcome” transparency and information sharing among providers. Spectrum Health, among others in the region, has reported such outcomes.

The facts answer the previously unabated issue of systematic increases that hobble business owners who want to provide coverage for their employees — the pragmatic bottom line. It leaves the philosophic arguments for the golf course.

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