VOLUNTARY INSURANCE GROUPS ARE URGED FOR HEALTH CARE

CHICAGO -- Small employers would benefit from lifting the ban on voluntary insurance purchasing groups contained in President Clinton's health care proposal, Bob Bartels, president of Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., said here last week. Speaking as part of the health care segment of the FMI Speaks report at last week's annual Food Marketing Institute convention, Bartels said voluntary purchasing

CHICAGO -- Small employers would benefit from lifting the ban on voluntary insurance purchasing groups contained in President Clinton's health care proposal, Bob Bartels, president of Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., said here last week. Speaking as part of the health care segment of the FMI Speaks report at last week's annual Food Marketing Institute convention, Bartels said voluntary purchasing groups "would help smaller companies and uninsured individuals buy affordable insurance by eliminating existing regulatory barriers." Voluntary purchasing groups are an alternative to the mandated groups contained in the Clinton health plan. Many states, including Indiana, prohibit small employers from joining together to achieve more favorable rates, but a change in the Clinton proposal to lift the ban would make voluntary purchasing groups a viable, attractive option for smaller retail operators, industry sources told SN. Martin's, a 13-unit chain in Indiana, maintains a self-funded health care plan that promotes employee wellness. "And it works," said Michael Sansolo, FMI's group vice president, in introducing Bartels. "And his employees don't have to pay a dime."

e Congress to reject any plan calling for new government bureaucracies or mandating added costs for food distributors and our employees. Specifically, we urge Congress to reject President Clinton's plan."

When FMI representatives testify before congressional committees considering health care reform, "we remind our representatives that food retailers and wholesalers employ nearly 4 million Americans," Sansolo said. "And we explain the huge cost of providing coverage for part-time workers who account for approximately 60% of our work force."

Surveys indicate 53% of part-timers are age 23 or younger, Sansolo said, "And they are typically included in their parents' health plans."

Benefits Provided

% OF COMPANIES PROVIDING BENEFITS

Salaried Hourly

Employees Employees

Medical 96 95

Life insurance 96 89

Prescriptions 82 82

Dental 80 79

Short-term diability 77 72

Pension 56 62

Vision 47 50

401(K) 54 40

Long-term disability 65 35

Cafeteria option 25 21

Thrift 9 8