Health Care Reform: Business Reaction


 "It makes you feel good because if the company's willing to invest in the greatest asset of the company which is the people, you know, it's good to know through the benefits they offer and wanting you to work here long term, that right there shows they have an active interest and care about their employees."

Workers at Kobe Aluminum say the great atmosphere and great benefits are what attracted them to the company.

"I'd like to say it's because we're wonderful, wonderful people and in some ways, in many ways, I think we probably are, but it's also part of the Japanese culture. Japanese culture as most people know is a lifetime employment scenario and it's a loyalty issue," said Greg Head, the Corporate Secretary and General Affairs of Kobe Aluminum.

Part of that lifetime scenario includes taking care of their employees.

Kobe currently pays 90% of their employees' health insurance premiums.

"It feels pretty good, it feels good. I've worked for companies that didn't quite provide that much, so I know that as little as possible coming out of my pocket, I'm very pleased with that," said Lloyd Smalley in the Etching Department.

"Normally the company makes some sort of contribution whether it be 60 - 80%, but really 90% is kind of strange in this industry and rare," said David Taylor, the tooling manager.

Kobe also provides a voluntary "wellness program" for employees. A few measurements are taken, the employee fills out a questionnaire, and they're provided with lifestyle tips.

If they participate in the program their insurance premiums are reduced even more.

"I've enjoyed it. I think the wellness is a big part of it, just making sure, it's a preventative measure, you know make sure we all stay healthier," said Adam Houchens, a technician.

"I've got a growing child and it's a great benefit to have because as she grows older and I grow older, we have something to look to an say 'Hey this is how we can extend our lives. This is how we can live a better quality of life," said Michael Nims with employee relations.

"That gives us the boost to be healthier and to have our families be healthier because it does come with a discount and it's like a reward, you know 'Don't forget if you do this you're going to benefit even more," said Jessica Counts, a technician.

While the Affordable Care Act has been pushed back to 2015 for businesses, Kobe is already preparing. They'd like to maintain the 90% threshold.

"It makes you feel good because if the company's willing to invest in the greatest asset of the company which is the people, you know, it's good to know through the benefits they offer and wanting you to work here long term, that right there shows they have an active interest and care about their employees," said John Gregory, a safety engineer.

While businesses don't know exactly how the Affordable Care will affect them, they're hearing there will be extra paperwork.

"My understanding, which I would say I'm not highly intelligent in the subject, but my understanding is we would have to hire one more person in the HR department just to handle all the paperwork," said Head.

Despite the possibility of extra paperwork, those with Kobe say they'll continue to negotiate with insurance companies to keep the costs as low as they can for their employees.

"They consider you as an investment and they're willing to pay for that investment," said Kathy Nash a quality engineer.

"Being competitive in selection of carriers and if required for the health care act we will do what we have to do to keep the costs as low as possible. We will do that," said Head.

When looking for an insurance company, Kobe says they'll negotiate, narrow the search down to a couple of companies, then negotiate some more.

For more on how businesses could be affected by the Affordable Care Act, click the link below.


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