Health care costs remain a top concern for U.S. manufacturers

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 154 views 

Health care spending continues to be one of the top concerns for manufacturers, and recent increases in health insurance premiums for most firms have deepened the frustration.

In the most recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 74.1 percent of respondents mentioned health insurance expenses as their top business challenge.

Those surveyed expect premiums to increase by 7.9% on average over the next 12 months, but nearly one-third reported gains of at least 10%. Small and medium-sized manufacturers reported an average increase of 8.5%.

According to NAM, health insurance premiums have increased over the past 15 years from $6,549 in 2000 to $16,538 in 2014 for a family policy in the manufacturing sector. If survey respondents are correct, manufacturers’ premiums will likely increase to $17,845 per family under their plan in 2015 – an increase of $1,307 per policy in one year.

Following are the three main areas manufacturers citied when considering health care  benefits and policies, according to the NAM survey report.
• Controlling Costs
Employers are interested in controlling or lowering the cost of coverage, and there are many factors that contribute to the ever-increasing burden insurance premiums pose for employers and employees. Fees, taxes, administrative processes, reporting requirements, benefit mandates and other policies make employer- sponsored coverage more expensive for both employers and employees.

• Expanding Coverage Options
Manufacturers have invested a significant amount of resources in trying to maintain a healthy workforce, and NAM members offer health insurance coverage at a much higher rate than other industries. NAM believes Congress and the Obama Administration should take steps to provide more flexibility and increase the options available to employers that would like to continue providing coverage or assisting their employees in paying for health coverage.

• Accessing Better Information
The NAM supports commonsense approaches to increasing transparency and availability of information in health care to assist all parties in making the best decisions about when, how and where they will access the health care system in the United States.