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Say goodbye to employer-provided health insurance

Author says that day is near and it’s a good thing


This article is reprinted by permission from

Could employer-provided health insurance be going the way of employer-sponsored pension plans?

Rick Lindquist, president of Zane Benefits, which specializes in individual health insurance reimbursement for small businesses, says: Not only could it happen; it’s happening already.

Lindquist and Paul Zane Pilzer (who founded Zane Benefits), argue that case in their new book, “The End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance.” As surprising as you may find the title, get a load of its subtitle: “Why It’s Good for You, Your Family and Your Company.”

Lindquist and Pilzer’s Salt Lake City, Utah-based company stands to profit if employers shift from traditional health insurance and toward their defined-contribution reimbursement system. In that model, employees are given a flat amount of cash from their employers — say $500 a month — told to buy a health-care plan with it and that their firms will cover their medical costs.

Still, I wanted to learn more.

I recently spoke with Lindquist about why he thinks employer-provided health insurance is the employee benefits equivalent of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Snapchat.

Next Avenue: Why are employers moving away from offering health insurance?

Lindquist: There will be a massive shift; in fact, we’re in the middle of it. People categorize this as employers dumping health insurance. Yes, they stop offering insurance but they don’t stop offering benefits. They’re just changing they way they deliver them and replacing them with defined-contribution plans. It could save millions of dollars for employees and employers.

How fast is this switch happening?

In our book, we project that by 2017, the majority of small businesses that now offer health insurance will switch to defined-contribution. This is being led by small-business owners. But it doesn’t stop there.

A few years ago, some big companies [Verizon and AT&T] leaked documents saying they were evaluating dropping health insurance plans. Some big companies will drop their plans and that will have a snowball effect. We project that 90% of all businesses will drop offering health insurance plans in the next 10 years.

Why don’t we see more big companies doing this?

They don’t understand it. Plus, there’s a cost to make the transition: To avoid a revolt, you need to educate employees, which is hard. It will happen.

Why is this happening?

Since the early 2000s, health-care costs for businesses have been growing faster than any other employee cost. And they’ve shifted the cost to employees over the last 15 years with higher deductibles, higher copays and higher premiums.