WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on Feb. 5 to focus on health care and small employers. The hearing, led by the committee’s chair, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, explored approaches to confront the issue. The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) submitted testimony for the hearing’s record.

Citing the results of a health insurance benefits survey conducted by NAW in spring 2002, Jim Anderson, NAW’s vice president of government relations, described the problem confronting employers as one of cost. Anderson indicated that premium increases in 2002 over the preceding year averaged 19 percent in the wholesale distribution industry, well above national averages revealed in other studies. NAW said the average increase for wholesaler-distributors with more than 500 employees was 16 percent, while the average increase for smaller industry employers reached 20 percent.

The NAW statement highlighted two priorities for addressing the problem. This includes an end to government-imposed mandates on health insurance plans and employers and employees who purchase these plans and an enactment of Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation.

Publication date: 02/24/2003