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COMMENTARY: Employer health care plans work for Nevadans

Providing health insurance is a goal for most business owners, as they know a healthy business depends on healthy employees.

Today, it’s more critical than ever for Americans to have greater control over how they meet their health care needs. In that light, it is important to remember that employer-provided health insurance coverage delivers affordable access to care, effective ways to improve health and financial security for millions of Americans every day.

Currently the Legislature is considering Senate Bill 420, which would create a government-run public health option. Under the proposal, hospitals and doctors will be paid current Medicare rates, which are already below the cost of providing services. Medicare’s current underpayments to doctors shifts costs to privately insured Nevadans on small plans. This increases health care costs for all of Nevada’s working families.

The issue employers are finding today is that the cost of health care is continuously rising regardless of their efforts to keep employees healthy. Unless we solve the cost problem (pharmaceutical costs and hospital costs), the cost of a public option health insurance plan will cost the taxpayer only more money with no solution in sight.

Simply offering a low-cost plan does not make it a good plan. There are many benefits that get left out, i.e., certain medication, small network of doctors or certain procedures. One of the greatest benefits to an employer-based plan is that the companies are able to customize their plans to include these basic yet important benefits that are commonly left out of public health plans.

The safety and health of employees has never been more important than during this pandemic, and that is why so many small businesses want to offer health care for their staff. If we were to incentivize employers to maintain healthy employees through result-based incentives, you increase the likelihood of better safety regulation, health care for the employees and a better workplace environment. Offering affordable plans with good benefits is one of the ways a business incentivizes new employees and growth.

As a health insurance broker, a big concern for me throughout the past year has been how to keep employees on their employer’s health care plan after they were laid off. Many struggling businesses continued to provide health care to the employees who were temporarily laid off, as they knew the importance to keep their staff healthy during such a trying time.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we worked with many businesses to continue to provide comprehensive health coverage for employees and their families. This coverage empowers employees to improve their health while also protecting their financial security.

Through access to strong provider networks, comprehensive coverage and quality services at an affordable cost, employer-provided coverage helps give employees and their families peace of mind. As policymakers in the Legislature and in Congress consider the future of the health insurance market, let’s build on the strength, stability and success of employer-provided coverage.

Providing coverage through work is one of the most efficient means we have of enrolling individuals and families in affordable coverage. Because employers have a vested interest in the health and financial security of their employees, employer–provided coverage continues to be a bedrock of our entire health care system.

We need to continue to find ways to strengthen employer-provided coverage and deliver peace of mind to more families. Let’s find ways to lower the cost of insurance for our employers to help them grow our economy.

Ken Garner is a principal at A-Z Insurance in Las Vegas and a member of the Leadership Council for the National Federation of Independent Business in Nevada.

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