In Arizona, about 162,000 children lack health insurance. Fortunately, KidsCare — the state’s version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP — is about to help change that.
Now, through KidsCare and Medicaid expansion (known in Arizona as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS), Arizona business leaders can fight rising employee health insurance costs and improve the health of workers and their families.
KidsCare for Arizona Families and Businesses
This month, KidsCare will relaunch after a six-year hiatus. Lawmakers struck it from the state’s budget after fiscal woes following the Great Recession, but the reinstated program will bring low-cost health coverage to 30,000 Arizona children in its first year alone.
KidsCare’s return is good news for more than just qualifying families. The nonpartisan Grand Canyon Institute projects that KidsCare will provide $40 million in direct economic benefits to Arizona’s economy through the 2017 fiscal year. The program’s broader economic benefits, the institute estimates, will total $75 million.
What are the sources of those economic benefits? More patients being treated and more prescriptions being filled — as well as fewer unsettled bills from uninsured patients — are expected to boost healthcare revenue and create jobs.
The state’s healthcare industry has much to gain from the stimulus, but other businesses will benefit, too. Arizona business owners can utilize KidsCare and Medicaid expansion, which the state embraced in 2013, to reduce healthcare costs, boost worker productivity, and strengthen rapport with employees.
It’s Time to Get Arizona Covered
Here’s how it works: Businesses with 50 or more employees — which are required to offer quality private insurance — can enroll eligible low-income employees in AHCCCS. Many of these workers would otherwise be unable to afford the basic plans their employers are required by Affordable Care Act mandates to offer.
By helping eligible workers enroll in the AHCCCS Medicaid program, Arizona business owners can transform their employees’ lives and reduce their healthcare costs. They can also strengthen their companies, Arizona’s economy, and the present and future workforce.
When Arizona business leaders enroll eligible employees in Medicaid expansion, everyone benefits:
- Lower premiums for employees. With rising premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, many low-wage workers cannot afford private employer-sponsored insurance plans. However, AHCCCS Medicaid enrollees can get health insurance with minimal to no premiums, deductibles, copays, and pharmacy costs, making it a financial game changer for those who qualify.
- Comprehensive coverage for employees and their families. Unlike many private insurance plans, Medicaid covers the entire family and includes benefits like vision and dental care, non-emergency transportation, and even substance abuse treatment. And when you compare Medicaid’s access to providers, benefits, and out-of-pocket costs to those of private insurance, Medicaid comes out equal to or better than most plans.
- Reduced healthcare costs for employers. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that in 2015, Arizona employers spent approximately $4,555 per employee enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance. For even the most successful companies, those expenses add up fast. So it’s no surprise that each eligible employee who is transitioned over to Medicaid can save employers thousands of dollars in premium costs and healthcare liabilities each year.
- Improved employee health. Unhealthy employees — and their equally unhealthy families — are seriously bad for business. In fact, sick workers cost U.S. companies about $153 billion in absences and lost productivity each year.
In short, Medicaid coverage makes for happy, healthy workplaces. Healthier employees are absent less and are more productive overall. They’re also more focused at work, reducing costly mistakes and accidents. And employees who are less stressed about health and financial issues are happier with their jobs and are more likely to stay long-term, cutting back on turnover and new-hire training expenses.
Healthcare costs are heating up in Arizona. But by utilizing KidsCare and Arizona’s AHCCCS program, business leaders have options to deliver health insurance to employees and their families.