Employees and employers alike in every field are facing the impact of rising health care costs. With average increases for premiums in double-digits, employers are faced with the problem of having employees pick up more of the costs, thus making compensation packages less attractive, or further cutting into eroding profits. Either way, it’s a losing proposition.
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that in the 2004 National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) State of the Industry Report, health care costs were ranked as the highest area of concern from an internal standpoint for printing ink manufacturers. In our feature article, “Health Care Costs and the Ink Industry,” beginning on page 29, words such as “crazy” and “biggest thorn in my side” are used to describe the state of health care costs in the U.S.
Across the board, medical costs are escalating, whether it is pharmaceuticals, dental care, hospital stays or a simple stop at the doctor. For small and large businesses alike, rising health care costs are hitting home hard.
Aside from having more employees and their families to take care of, large businesses are facing higher retiree costs as well as the costs of handling the paperwork involved with health care insurance.
For small businesses, there is a lot less margin for such increases. Some smaller businesses find they have to cut back on benefits or can no longer afford to offer health care coverage, which makes it difficult for them to retain key employees or attract the people they need to grow.
There is no doubt that health care insurance is an absolute necessity. Still, costs are going up faster than companies can afford, and employees often are picking up more of the share while having reduced options. To try to preserve the best possible benefits package for their employees, companies are coming up with more options for care. Unfortunately, it is particularly disturbing to realize that there is no clear solution to the problem at hand.
The costs of health care have had a major impact on U.S. business, and it is not going to get better any time soon. Finding the most cost effective way to manage those costs while taking the best possible care of employees and their families will undoubtedly remain a difficult challenge for companies large and small alike in the coming years.