Monday, June 24, 2024

Health care mandates nothing more than a hidden tax increase on employers | Opinion

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About half of Ohio’s working population obtains their health care benefits from their employer as part of a compensation package

I love to represent and advocate on behalf of job creators in our community to ensure that all businesses − small, large, and everyone in between − have an opportunity to be prosperous and successful. Part of advocating on behalf of members of the Greater Hamilton Chamber is sharing their thoughts and concerns with our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels of government. When I talk with business leaders about their concerns, the response is usually related to workforce development and taxes, but another issue has emerged as a top priority: the high cost of providing health care benefits to employees.

About half of Ohio’s working population obtains their health care benefits from their employer as part of a compensation package. Lately, our local job creators have shared their concerns with me about the high cost of providing health benefits. It is common for businesses in our area to see double-digit increases in premium costs from last year just to provide the same benefits. One business shared that they have realized an 18% increase in their premiums, and another saw a 40% increase, with no change in coverage or greater benefits. As a business community, fears are rising that providing benefits to employees is becoming financially unsustainable, and smaller businesses especially may have to direct employees to get their health benefit plan off of the exchange.

While the government is not in the business of creating jobs, it can help create and foster a positive economic environment for job creators in our area and in the Buckeye State. One way to provide a favorable economic environment and help employers keep costs down is for state and federal elected officials to oppose mandates relating to health care. Oftentimes, well-meaning legislation is introduced that mandates coverage for certain procedures or prescription drugs. Like any government mandate, they come with hidden costs and consequences. These mandates are imposed on health insurance providers to cover whatever services are being mandated. However, health insurance companies will have no choice but to increase their premium prices to cover the costs of these mandates. This higher cost will ultimately be passed onto the entity providing the benefit, mainly our businesses and job creators.

It is vital that the employer’s voice is heard and considered when the discussion of health insurance mandates is debated. These mandates are nothing more than a hidden tax increase on employers and businesses in our community. Our job creators are trying to provide health care benefits to the best of their ability with the means they have. Government dictating to them on what they must provide for health benefits is heavy-handed and a slippery slope.

Therefore, I implore our members of Congress and members of the Ohio Legislature to keep job creators’ concerns in mind when debating the merits of health care mandates. Please do no harm and let them focus on what they do best: growing their company and providing good, family-supporting jobs. 

Dan Bates is president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

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