The Other Side to Health Care Mandates

Last week, the Ohio Chamber testified against House Bill 350. This legislation would require all health insurance policies to include coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism and autism related conditions. It would be applied to plans purchased by employers with more than 50 employees as well as grandfathered plans. Grandfathered plans are health care plans that are not subject to many parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and purchased on or before March 23, 2010 (the day the ACA went into effect).

Small businesses are impacted by health care mandates the most. Why? Since most larger businesses self-insure, they are not impacted by government mandates. Their plans are instead governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Small businesses buy their coverage directly from a health insurer. As a result, small employers cannot pick and choose what they would like to have in their health coverage. Government mandates make the insurance small business have to buy more expensive.

We know autism is a horrible condition that takes both an emotional and financial toll on families. Our members understand this as well. Unfortunately, passing a mandate simply shifts the financial burden onto the backs of small businesses.

Employers are often unfairly made out to be the bad guys in debates over health care mandates. The Ohio Chamber is making an effort to change this label. We are engaging the Ohio Chamber’s Small Business Council to explain the real-word challenges businesses face in trying to provide affordable health coverage.

Charlie Conner, CEO of Alcon Tool Company, a small manufacturing company in Akron, also testified against HB 350. Health insurance is now his third highest business expense.  Only wages and raw materials cost more. Conner explained how even small increases in premiums due to new mandates could threaten his ability to continue to provide coverage for his employees.

There are currently seven other bills that would mandate coverage for other conditions pending in the House or Senate. Mandates like HB 350 only partially fix the problem they aim to solve. The Ohio Chamber has recommended to lawmakers that they explore better ways to solve problems like the lack of affordable autism coverage. Shifting this cost to small employers is not the answer.

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