Two months ago, 14 Chambers of Commerce across Southern Arizona came together to proudly launch a new health-insurance plan option for small businesses throughout Southern Arizona. We found that when it comes to meeting their health-care needs, many of these businesses struggle with the dilemma of profitability vs. giving their valued employees the health care they deserve. It has been an issue that faces almost every small business, not only here in Southern Arizona, but across the country.
That is why we are so proud of the Southern Arizona Chamber Benefits Plan. Offered through UnitedHealthcare, we are providing member businesses 17 different health-care insurance options. These options range in coverage and will give employees and small-business owners control over their health-care coverage and costs. It will give those member businesses who don’t have health-care insurance the opportunity to buy it and those who already have health coverage a new option that may save on their costs.
This endeavor is an example of how the business community can work together with another industry to solve a problem. Part of our ongoing mission as a Chamber is to support affordable health-care options for Arizonans to ensure economic stability. The key word is “options”. It is a word that comes up often around our Chambers. The more choice and freedom a business has, whether it’s in health care or another sector, we believe the better off it will be.
The health-care debate has shifted. If one is to listen to many of the candidates running for president, “Medicare for All” is the solution to solving our health-care needs, but if “Medicare for All” were implemented, this option that we created for small businesses and the self-employed would no longer exist. These small-business owners would not have a choice, and the government would be running their health care. What comes after that is anyone’s guess. There could be restrictions to care, less access to doctors, or government mismanagement.
A better solution would be to make fixes to the current system. The Southern Arizona Chamber Benefits Plan is proof that it is possible to make improvements to our system without completely reinventing the wheel.
There are many more ways to strengthen our current system that can be done at the federal level as well. We can’t ask for a complete government overhaul of something as important as our health care without exhausting the possibilities we have at our disposal now.
Getting as many individuals covered without devastating financial burdens is the ultimate goal, no matter which solution is chosen. By offering our new health-care plan to our members, we have played a small role in reaching that goal.