A Retirement Plan Approach to Health Care

May 13, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR (b)lines) - After some initial groaning by 403(b) plan sponsors following passage of the 2007 regulations, many decided to move forward positively with the attitude that new rules offered the opportunity to clean up their plans and offer a better benefit for employees.

Plan advisers and providers also encouraged this view in offering help to sponsors to get into compliance.  

However, since the new health care reform law was passed last year, the groaning hasn’t stopped. Report after report indicates employers see the law’s provisions as administratively burdensome and costly. But, aren’t health care benefits just as important for employees as retirement benefits?  

If the government wants employers to play a big part in increasing the number of Americans who have access to health care, perhaps it’s time to start treating employer-sponsored health care benefits as it has retirement benefits – instead of mandating that employers provide a health care plan, looking for ways to “encourage” the offering; focusing on rules to ensure fees charged by providers are reasonable and controlled; and educating health plan participants on how to reduce their costs.   

I am on the side of Americans universally having access to health care coverage, but even I know that our human instinct is to buck when something is forced on us.  

Perhaps a new approach by the government would help employers have a healthier attitude about it.