Illinois employers spend approximately $25 billion annually for health care benefits. While the cost of health care is important, employers and consumers must be able to expect quality health care from medical providers and their health plans. Healthy employees are productive employees. With quality and efficiency improvements, Illinois will be better postured to increase access to health care coverage. Without such improvements, the number of uninsured will increase and Illinois will be a decreasingly attractive state for businesses to locate.
For decades, health care costs have been rapidly increasing at double digit rates often far exceeding the consumer price index. Without significant changes, the dramatic increase in health care benefit costs, experienced by employers does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. In response, employers have sought aggressive and innovative ways to control health care benefit costs. Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), Preferred Benefit Managers (PBMs), utilization review systems were the some of the first responses. Consumer-driven insurance products with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Retirement Accounts (HRAs) are more recent tools that employers also are utilizing.
Today, in virtually every employer plan an employee must share in the cost of their health plan in the form of co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles. Consequently, cost increases are affecting patients as well as purchasers.
Finally, decisions of state and federal policymakers have a direct impact on health benefit costs. For example, Illinois hospitals accrue well over $1 billion in uncompensated care costs and losses on caring for Medicaid patients. In order to maintain financial viability, hospitals must shift these costs to the insured population, which in turn leads to inflated and rising health benefit costs for employers.
Furthermore, Illinois has nearly 50 individual health coverage mandates that continue to inflate costs for employers, and each year, dozens of new mandate proposals are introduced.
The Illinois Chamber believes that our healthcare system can be improved through market-driven reforms that strike a balance between lowering costs and reducing the uninsured while maintaining consumer choice and access to high quality, efficient care. The Illinois Chamber supports and actively pursues initiatives that encourage innovation and flexibility, increase competition and choice, and better manage healthcare costs and expenses without threatening to disrupt the dynamics that make the private market unique.
The Illinois Chamber, however, does not support efforts that threaten to dismantle employer-sponsored coverage by imposing new mandates, increased taxes, and increased regulatory authority that disrupts the elements of the private market that work.