We shouldn't avoid the topic in these pages of whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be good for the insurance industry, because the law will be very good for the insurance industry and the economy in general.
Industry leaders have been gearing up for this opportunity for a couple of years now. Why else would the insurance brokerages have been opening up their checkbooks to gobble up employee benefit consulting firms?
Expanded coverage means expanded business, period. And at a time when a contracted economy has flattened overall premium volume, this law could not have come at a better time for the industry.
And there is nothing about the law that is out of line with where the health care industry and its business companion, the insurance industry, were going to begin with. Prevention had become the watchword to reduce health care costs long before the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on the law this summer.
The law, with its focus on prevention, merely furthers and reinforces an effort that had already been under way.
The law has another benefit, it bolsters the benefits network for American workers at a time when the workers who most need solid benefits and health care benefits specifically, will have the greatest need.
I'm talking about the baby boomer generation whose members now comprise the upper management ranks at many companies. To keep the most talented boomers, companies need to provide the best benefits packages, and what will generally become an expanded, reinforced health care coverage universe will better serve that end.
The law's provision for private health care exchanges will help small business retain talent by giving owners a choice in providing health care insurance. The provision will also buffer small businesses that might have been tempted to self-insure. As the workforce ages and requires more health care services, no one needs that kind of exposure.
There may be some irony here in the debates about the wisdom of stimulus packages emanating from the federal government. With its focus on increased coverage, prevention and more choices for business owners, this health reform act might end up being a great piece of economic stimulus.
DAN REYNOLDS is managing editor of Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at email@example.com.
October 1, 2012
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