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Health Department Seeks Input As Businesses Believe Offering Health Insurance is 'Good Business'

Terry L. Cline, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health

Members of the public are invited to attend a discussion next week on the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan.

The Nov. 20 meeting at the OU Health Science Center Samis Education Center in Oklahoma City is being hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The agency is scheduled to present findings from its recently conducted Oklahoma health and wellness survey, among other presentations.

Mandated in 2008 by the state Legislature, OHIP is a comprehensive plan for improvement of the physical, social and mental wellbeing of all Oklahomans. 

The OHIP team has been gathering public input this year to develop an updated improvement plan set to launch in January.

Public comment on the plan can be made through Dec. 10.

The SDH survey “Health and Wellness Survey” results were released on November 7, 2014. The survey was directed at Oklahoma businesses.

The official SDH release says, “43% indicate that rising healthcare costs are negatively impacting profits needed for business growth, while many noted healthcare cost increases are preventing growth in employee wages and creating greater employee payments for healthcare costs.  Nearly a quarter of business respondents indicated they have held off on hiring employees due to these factors.”

The press release quotes Governor Mary Fallin as saying, “The rise of healthcare costs is unsustainable and negatively impacting job growth. Our Oklahoma businesses are making difficult choices between supporting their existing employees with health insurance benefits and growing their company.”

Fallin continues, “We need to continue to aggressively pursue state-based solutions that improve access to affordable health insurance, especially as it is increasingly obvious that federal health care laws like the Affordable Care Act have been ineffective at reducing costs.”

The report indicates that, " most employers—regardless of size—view offering health insurance as a key component of employee recruitment and retention, and because “it’s the right thing to do.” At the same time, the most common barrier to offering health insurance is cost. Consistent with that finding, participants expressed very positive opinions about Insure Oklahoma, which helps employees and employers manage the cost component."

The report says, "Most polling respondents we contacted (91%) offer health insurance to their employees; cost dominates the discussion:

  • 47% see the high cost of coverage and care as the most challenging piece – followed by “nothing” (30%) and administrative duties (19%)
  • 63% state they take part in Insure Oklahoma for the financial benefits to their employees and business
  • 61% say making healthcare more affordable would improve access for Oklahomans by finding ways to lower insurance prices (50%), controlling the cost of care (33%), and accepting ACA funding (13%).

Copies of the Business Health and Wellness Survey report can be downloaded here: State of Oklahoma Business Health and Wellness Survey (PDF).

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