Have you thought about your health care lately? If you are running a business, you probably have. You have certainly noticed the steep rise in your health care insurance costs each year. When women business owners think about the health care coverage they provide their employees, they see more than just the cost. Some women business owners even have some ideas to address the out-of-control costs. I think they are on to something that is good for America. Should someone tell the White House?
I recently spoke with Linda Denny, President and CEO of The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC.) WBENC is the leading advocate for, and authority on, Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) as suppliers and vendors to the nation’s corporations. WBENC conducted a recent survey of over 1500 women’s businesses and found that that they will hold on to their health care insurance as a key means of retaining employees, even though they are already cutting back to cope with rising costs.
Denny says that women business owners think of themselves as small business owners. They have 85 percent of the same concerns as anyone would who runs a small business. What are those concerns? They want to grow their business, manage it effectively, develop employees and keep employees happy.
What makes women business owners different is that women look at the issues differently. One issue is how they see their employees. Denny says, “Generally, women view their employees on a more personal basis than men. They see their employees as an extended part of their families.” Denny should know. She saw this when she worked in market research. You can see it in the WBENC survey results, too. Fifty-nine percent of the women’s businesses said that health care was very or extremely important in hiring and retaining their employees. It’s getting harder and harder for women business owners to provide for their employees, especially in the area of health care.
Some women business owners are getting very creative with the solutions they provide employees as they try to address their spiraling health care costs. You may have heard about wellness programs. These are the programs that are designed to keep employees healthier. The reason behind keeping employees healthy is simple and goes right to the bottom line. When employees are healthier they don’t need as much illness insurance. Denny said, “For every $1 spent on a wellness program, you avoid spending up to $5 in health care costs and lost time.” That’s a great investment. Should someone call Congress and let them know? Just imagine if all business owners asked themselves what they could do to keep their employees healthier. With healthier employees, employers would not have to pay for higher priced insurance for employees with greater health risks.
Getting employees healthy is a key issue. If the cost of health care hasn’t alarmed you, maybe the statistics about America’s growing obesity will The National Center for Health statistics has been tracking America’s obesity problem for over four decades. They found that between 1962 and the year 2000, the number of obese Americans grew from 13 percent to an alarming 31 percent of the population.
The government is looking for some answers to the health care crisis. Maybe they should look to women business owners to provide them with the answers.