by Mark Kellenbeck, Founding Principal and COO, Cascade Management.

Cascade Management is a 30 year old, Oregon-based real estate management company specializing in affordable housing.

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Cascade Management operates statewide, employs over 300 employees and, due to dramatic increases in health insurance costs, has been forced to raise the annual insurance deductible per employee from $500 to $2000, and raise the employee portion of the premium from 14% to 17%.  Had we not raised the deductible, the cost increase in the last seven years would have well exceeded 100%.

While we pay 83% of our employees’ monthly medical insurance premiums, due to the cost we are currently unable to insure our employees’ family (dependents). So needless to say the children of our employees, who are the most vulnerable and whose early and preventive care would yield the greatest long term return, are most often not covered and often go without proper care.

With a $2000 deductible the same occurs with our employees (the parents). Many forgo medical care they would benefit from, because the deductible is painfully high. Even I, as one of the highest paid employees of the company, find the $2000 annual deductible obnoxiously high. Recently I spent $2400 out of pocket for diagnostic tests my primary care doctor felt were prudent. I am sure 90% of my employees would have been unable to have or delayed the same tests, even though they were physician-ordered and essential for their care.

Each year we seriously search for medical insurance alternatives and use a professional agent to obtain as many quotes for coverage as possible. Most years even with 300 employees we obtain only one or two quotes for coverage.  In this current year our carrier quoted us a 23% increase, forcing us to change carriers and even with the change and substantial negotiation our increase was a staggering 13%.  We believe that many years of little to no competition in the marketplace substantially underlies the dramatically rising insurance costs we have experienced.

We pay $73,000 every month for our employees’ medical insurance, much of which comes at the expense of better wages for our employees, employee programs we can no longer afford and continually asking more of our employees.  Not surprisingly as a company we simply think the system has to change. It is way past the time that innovative, affordable and equitable health insurance be a reality.

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