Health Care Cost Concerns Drain You

It is difficult to go 24 hours without thinking about the health care crisis facing small businesses in the United States. There are numerous challenges to deal with when leading a small organization, but it seems as if the challenge of providing affordable medical benefits, is near the top of the list. Sure, there are issues that may pose more serious strategic threats, but the cost of medical insurance is an issue that can drain you. One certainty, access to medical benefits is widely known to be one of the main objectives for most US workers when seeking employment, and medical insurance is a major component of any competitive compensation package. At Horst Engineering, we have continually strived to provide a fair benefit that is better than the market or industry standard for organizations our size. Of course, we have struggled with the challenge like most companies, and have faced nasty price increases every year. We have switched insurance companies, tinkered with the cost sharing model, and changed the benefits, all in an effort to mitigate the spiraling costs.

I don’t have a great macroeconomic solution for the problem. It is a terrible situation that I have studied closely, but few issues are as complicated as this one. I will not attempt to determine if it is: the short term financial goals of insurance companies that drive the cost, the terrible health habits of the US population, the management and costs of medical care, the life expectancy demographics, the prescription drug problems, the price gouging of some medical professionals, the lack of education and lack of leverage of the consumer, the cost of research and development, the constant introduction of expensive technologies, the cost of caring for the uninsured, the cost of government regulations, or any of the host of other issues that have contributed to the problem. The litany of issues make you think that the whole system is broken.

For a small business leader, it can feel that way. We have had our own challenges in educating our workforce. We constantly preach that each person should take more responsibility for their medical costs and play a greater role in proactively managing their health and the health of their families. There is no silver bullet, but it is obvious that by focusing on three things, you can make a big impact. If everyone in the country focused on these three things, then the whole system could get a big dose of help.

1) Exercise             2) Nutrition             3) Stress Management 

I was recently discussing the issue with the President and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. He and I lamented the difficulties that the member companies face. Connecticut is a manufacturing dependent economy and a high cost place to do business. Manufacturing companies tend to have older workers because of the skill and experience involved with performing the critical tasks. Manufacturing companies have also had a hard time attracting younger workers who are steered towards service economy jobs. Age is a big factor in insurance costs. It is worth noting that the Mexican health care system is very different. The system is government run and has its own issues with many workers lacking access to quality medical care. However, many businesses locate in Mexico and other lower cost regions, in an effort to help manage their overall benefits costs.

In the US, I have become a big fan of Health Savings Accounts. For the first time this year, we offered a High Deductible Insurance Plan (HDIP) and companion HSA option. Time will judge the success of this offering, but in theory, by providing the right tools and incentives for employees/consumers to manage their health care needs, we can lower the overall cost. I think about this all of the time, so I’m certain that I will write about it again.

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@thecubscouts #pinewoodderby never gets old. Pack 157 Bolton, Connecticut #cubscouts So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏

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