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New health care options available for Utah business owners, workers

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Nov 29th, 2012 @ 8:04pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Health care in the workplace is something Utah business owners are struggling to provide and it's something Utah workers are afraid to lose.

At Richter 7, a local advertising and public relations firm, creativity is the heart of the business. The last thing executive vice president Peggy Lander wants are employees distracted by things like health insurance. But this fall, Lander found herself staring at significant increases to keep the benefits up.

"It was not sustainable, because of the 8 to 10 percent increases that we perceive are going to be happening in the future. So it was a point in this company to look at other options," says Lander.

To provide medical insurance, Richter 7 decided to switch to a plan with much higher deductibles, and a Health Savings Account benefit. The option cuts employers costs significantly, and gives employees financial flexibility.

It's the kind of idea the Salt Lake Chamber wants to give other small-to-medium Utah businesses through a website link called the Employer's Toolbox. This website gives options on how to deal with wellness, costs and solutions. Industry insiders like Steve Neeleman helped develop it through a special Salt Lake Chamber task force.

"What that does is it empowers the consumer where they can now not only save money for themselves, and be more thoughtful about how they spend money, and that drives down the costs for the employers," says Neeleman, who assisted Richter 7 with its decision.

Rich McKeown, also on the task force, points out there are many options on the site in an ever-changing healthcare environment. Using HSA's provides tax advantages, is consumer focused, and saves money.

McKeown says, "This is not a panacea. This is an incremental step to provide information to employers as they contemplate new health insurance options."


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