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Big Business Boosts Bottom Lines By Bulk Purchasing Health Care for the Uninsured

by Jerry Flanagan, 9:10 a.m. PST, (415) 497-1710

In the midst of "Cover the Uninsured Week" a coalition of big business announced an innovative market-friendly approach to provide health care to millions of uninsured working Americans: band together and buy in bulk.

Buying in large quantities and negotiating bulk discounts is hardly a revolutionary business strategy for the likes of I.B.M., GE and McDonald's. What is revolutionary is that these corporate monoliths have been compelled to offer health insurance for part-time employees, a group traditionally ignored by corporate HR departments.

Why the change of heart? Dollars and sense.

Large corporations know that when the uninsured are forced to wait until medical conditions become critical before seeking treatment in emergency rooms everyone pays more. Hospitals and physicians treating the uninsured shift costs to insured patients in the form of higher premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. It's no surprise then that the second biggest expense to business after salaries is health insurance.

By providing access to health care, the worst cases are treated preventively, and thus, more cost effectively. Another boon: healthy workers are more productive.