DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Romco Equipment Company in Dallas specializes in selling and servicing heavy construction equipment, but CFO Craig Burkert said that even these machines could not help lift a burden that employees are now facing – soaring costs to their Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas health plan. “As you might imagine, we were quite upset,” Burkert said.
During each of the past eight years, Burkert explained, the company’s health care costs have risen by less than three percent. But this year, their health plan shot up by 30 percent, and that was after negotiations.
Burkert shopped around, asking eight other health insurance carriers to submit bids. Five of them declined to do so. The three who did submit bids could not offer better plans. “That tells me it’s not a carrier-specific problem,” Burkert said. “It’s an industry problem, and we feel it’s driven by healthcare reform.”
Dallas attorney Mitch Dean represents several health care providers. “A lot of people are seeing increases like this,” he said. But it is a mistake to blame only the new healthcare reform law, he added. “The fact is, premiums have been going up for a long time. We use more care and we use more expensive care.”
In a statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield did not comment on the Romco Equipment Company specifically, but said in general that “rising health care costs are driven by increased spending on hospital care, physician services, prescription drugs and other medical services.”
Burkert said, to make it more affordable for his employees, he was forced to change the company plan. “We simply could not pass a 30 percent increase to employees or the company,” he said.
Lois Mace understood that the Romco Equipment Company would have to pass some of the higher health costs to employees like herself, but after having an outpatient procedure done last September, she said, “I was shocked.”
Mace saw her deductible double from $500 to $1,000, and her copay went from $15 to $20. Her premium jumped eight percent. Mace does not blame her company, but did say that she was worried. “What scares me is in the future,” she said, “what it is going to come to, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford it if it continues to go up.”
Burkert said that, if costs continue to rise, he is unsure what the company will do. They already did everything they could to keep a lid on the costs this year.