It’s fair to say that employers and employees see employer-provided health benefits as a significant value add in their relationship. For employers, a recent study proves that offering health coverage benefits provides a positive return on investment. Some of the advantages employers identify include lower direct medical costs, increased productivity, lower recruitment costs, stronger retention, as well as tax benefits.
While employers see many positive outcomes from offering health benefits, they face an increasing cost to offering this benefit every year. In fact, it’s estimated that the average cost that U.S. employers pay for their employees’ health care will increase 6.5% to more than $13,800 per employee in 2023, up from $13,020 per employee in 2022.
With these cost increases lagging inflation, one can expect even higher year-over-year increases to come. Each year a business must weigh the real increase in cost against the positives, many of which are hard to measure. And since 1986, independent business owners have cited the “cost of health insurance” as their number one problem.
Most Arizona businesses have enough on their plate in just running a successful business. We can’t expect these companies to also keep track of, and weigh-in on, complex public policy issues that will contribute to increased health coverage costs. That’s why the nonprofit group Arizonans for Affordable Health Coverage was formed — to keep a keen eye on insurance legislation at the Capitol and lead the charge on affordability. Many factors contribute to rising premiums, but new state laws and regulations are important ones. Policymakers can help hold the line on costs or pass laws that make the situation worse.
Often, government is perceived as moving at a snail’s pace. This may feel like a similarity if you are waiting for service from an agency, but it is a different scene inside a state legislative session. While sorting through competing messages on complicated legislative proposals, lawmakers need a trusted group to turn to for information about the impact that policy changes will have on the cost of health coverage.
Arizonans for Affordable Health Coverage is here to educate policymakers and the public about how health insurance works, the value of insurance, and the cost-drivers that increase premiums. Our association will support public policy that protects Arizonans’ private health insurance and keeps health care costs from rising.
The work we are doing is more important than ever. Arizona is projected to add more than 700,000 jobs by 2030, according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. We do not want health care costs to become a deterrent for businesses setting up shop or creating more jobs in our state. Arizona’s economic future looks bright, and we don’t want a lack of affordable health coverage to undermine our state’s prosperity.
Time is of the essence. We are educating lawmakers now as the legislative session begins in January. There has been significant turnover at the state Legislature this year and we look forward to forming relationships with the new House and Senate members.
We also look forward to engaging you in the work we have ahead of us.
Chad Heinrich is president and CEO of Arizonans for Affordable Health Coverage and managing partner of Heinrich Public Affairs.