Health Care Reform is now the “Law of the Land” – or is it?

I specifically waited until elections were over to write this piece.  I am not sure why, because in all honesty, the elections would have had a minor impact on this piece of legislation. Before you go off on a political rant, please hear me out.

Over the past 2 years, I have devoted much of my time to understanding PPACA, which also meant understanding how our legislative and executive bodies of government work along with the people voted in to run them.  This has become my business. I knew that if I wanted a business in the future, I had to be educated (not only because my business is in employee benefits).  Now I will share a glimpse of what I learned with you.

Do not allow healthcare reform to drown your business

For those of you that think we are doomed because Romney did not win and now PPACA will not be repealed. I will tell you, it never could be in its entirety, anyway.  Also, since our officials are elected, very few in the higher positions would risk eliminating the parts that people “like” and risk their careers. For those of you that are elated that Obama has won and believe our healthcare woes are solved, we know that just is not true. We now have a even larger beast to reign in. Welcome to our new reality.

Ok – politics aside. We have businesses to run. What affect will it have on our businesses?  Well, that can be various and really determined on your business: employee make up, how many employees, type of employees etc.  There are and will be PLENTY of calculators to determine what this thing will cost you if you continued to offer benefits v.s. not to, and eat the penalty. But let’s get honest with ourselves for a moment. WHY do you offer benefits? Write it down.  Remember we are talking about your business. Your sweat and tears. We want to think this through. If we are going to spend money, we want to get something out of it… We really do not get anything out of a penalty.

Now take a look at you list.  It may look something like this: Attract and retain the best employees, to have healthy, productive employees, to control the bottom line, increase profitability. Right? So how do you maintain this without blowing up the budget? We all know reform as it stands will not lower the cost of insurance or healthcare. If anything it will increase it.  Honestly, I will argue whether or not this was even insurance reform. Insurance carriers have a lot to gain from this law, at least in the beginning.  I suggest you, the employer, take control.  There is only ONE way to reduce healthcare costs and PPACA does NOT address it. So what can you as a business owner or executive do to keep control of YOUR business and its costs?

Answer: STOP PLAYING THE GAME!

“What game?” you ask: the quoting game. You may even think you are above this, because you have a “consultant” that actually brings some pretty creative ideas to the table and explains things to you.  Bravo – you are a few steps ahead of many.  However, their “solutions” don’t last, do they?  Now you may be saying, “I know where you are going Sue – self funding and/or wellness – that doesn’t/won’t work for us”.  I am here to ask you, “Have you tried?” and if you did and it didn’t work, it isn’t your fault.  It was set up and serviced incorrectly. It DOES work in so many areas of your business, not just healthcare.

This is something I discovered on the journey of understanding our legislature, how people think.  Without getting to deep into all of this, but if we do not understand how people think then we can not affect their behavior.  If we are not affecting behavior correctly, we are not getting results.  Most people do not understand this, or if they do, they are not able to tie it into your business so you get and are tracking the results as it pertains to your business not just the health of your employees.  If you do, results are quicker and more quantitative.

Also this is not just for the big dogs.  I have spent my life in small business. I love it.  There is a dynamic that large corporations just cannot hold onto.  That said, I also make the argument that this solutions is EASIER for smaller businesses and hence they get faster results.  Granted they all may not be able to self fund, but it does open up the door to a case full of products that they may have been too afraid to consider because they didn’t understand their employee make up.

So why should you even do this and what really does it have to do with PPACA? Many of you are not forced to comply anyway – right?  Even if you do not have to comply – this will affect your business.  Your employees go to the exchanges and purchase healthcare – or worse yet, they don’t get any at all, because it is too overwhelming, time consuming and complicated. Now you have many employees, possibly, not seeking care and risking health and financial issues.  We all know this affects our business. It’s just that we have not been able to figure out just how much…  Wouldn’t you love to know this number?

This system is confusing.  Employees have looked to their employer for decades to provide them with solutions. It is a relationship, we cannot deny. Now, suddenly, for many of them, this “luxury” may be taken away from them and they are thrown into a world that they have never known. It is confusing enough for those of us that deal with it on a daily basis. I cannot imagine how the “everyday Joe” will navigate this.

Made a decision yet?

Once we admit that we would like to control the seemingly uncontrollable, we can look for solutions.  Yes the truth is we cannot control people. However, we can INFLUENCE their behavior.  Great businesses have figured this out!  We can mimic them.

Secondly, we need to stop compartmentalizing.  Good news, small businesses do this less than larger ones.  We wear many hats.  The difficult part is we never have the TIME to see the connections, the opportunities.  If you do nothing else for your business this year, find an outsider that can SEE this for you.  People are people, no matter your industry.  An excellent consultant doesn’t change your business meaning HOW you do it “what you do”.  They merely change your perspective to make what you do, better.

So is healthcare reform REALLY the law of the land? The only truth I know for sure, is how we do business has changed.  What that exactly will look like, is up to us.  So PPACA is not necessarily the end all, not if you/we do not want it to be.  It does not have to take over your business.  Note: I am not saying you have to break any laws.  What I am saying is I am all about finding ways to keep our businesses, in business and profitable, no matter what Washington does.  Though there is only ONE solution, as I alluded to above, HOW and WHAT you implement is dependent on your business.  Find a consultant talented enough to respect your business to maintain who you are and simply help you become a better “you”.

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