Healthre Coverage Focus of Study

Article excerpt

Special to The Journal Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. _ A U.S. Small Business Administration research study has identified a number of successful strategies that can provide expanded access to healthre coverage for small business employees.

The study, "Programs to Improve Health Insurance Access for Small Business: What Works and What Doesn't," highlights several programs that have achieved significant enrollment among firms that previously did not provide insurance coverage for their employees.

"This study is consistent with President Bush's proposal for comprehensive, marketsed reform and offers further evidence that a mandated, `play or pay' approach to providing healthre coverage is unneccesary," said SBA Administrator Patricia Saiki.

"There is no more important issue for the 20 million men and women small business owners than finding the affordable means to provide adequate health care to their employees."

The study, contracted by SBA's Office of Advocacy, examined private and public sector efforts to increase small business access to health insurance in 27 different programs throughout the country.

"Three fourths of the nation's uninsured private wagedlary workers are employed in small firms _ those with less than 500 employees. The fact that setup, administrative and per employee costs are all relatively higher for small businesses than for large suggests the need for a multiceted approach that includes market reforms and some subsidies to effectively lower premiums," Saiki said.

The study, which was conducted by Dr. Zachary Dyckman and Joanna Burnette of the Center for Health Policy Studies in Columbia, Md., identified and analyzed program characteristics in diverse states, under different arrangements which have been successful or show promise of success in increasing the ability of small firms to provide healthre benefits.

Case studies were conducted for each of these programs covering benefit structure and premiums, administration and marketing, enrollment and lessons learned. …