Today’s Healthcare Costs and the Aging Workforce

aging workerBeing a business owner or operator is known to have its associated costs. Things such as office supplies, electricity, building maintenance and leases, and even parking accommodations can all be factored into a business’ bottom line. Each of these individual expenses is a likely topic of impassioned conversation. But perhaps the most up-and-coming hot-topic expenditure conversation today is in health care – specifically senior health care costs encountered by businesses.

Red, White, Blue, and Gray

In recent years, according to statistics cited by Bloomberg Businessweek, the number of workers over the age of 65 has grown by 101%.  This “graying” pattern in the workforce has subsequently opened up the debate on associated employer-incurred health care expenses for these working seniors. But is this really such a cost issue as it is sometimes perceived?

The short answer: sometimes. The state in which the employment takes place has a lot to do with it. Some states forbid insurance coverage to be calculated with age as a consideration. Other states do not outlaw the practice. Some insurers willingly look to other factors aside from age, while others do not.

“Gray Means Good”

There is an abundance of positive news though for those still looking for it here. First, when real data comparisons are examined, the results have typically shown that seniors are not the popularly thought of “big expenses” for company-carried health insurers. In fact, according to experts such as author and HR expert Peter Cappelli, younger workers typically carry more dependents and therefore most often end up being the insurance companies’ “big expense.” These younger workers are giving birth, insuring their children, taking them to doctors, and more. Essentially, experts like Cappelli adamantly deny any claims to seniors being such an economic burden on the insurer.

Secondly, seniors can be a fantastic bargain for employers. Many seniors desire to work part-time for supplemental income. They are also far more seasoned and experienced in all things business and life. They are also widely believed to be the group to take work seriously and follow a company’s goal, itinerary, and purposes.

Finally, many experts refer to alternative, “more effective ways” to limiting age-related business costs. This mainly consists of maintaining a mindfulness to workplace safety, loss-prevention, and worker compensation insurance policy. Ergonomics is another largely agreed upon tactic. Know what your employees are good at or not good at and take advantage through positional placement and task delegation.

Short of sweeping legislative changes, this will probably be the state of affairs for some time to come. Seniors are as big a part of the workforce as ever before. And it seems that as with so many other concepts in business, seniors are but another element that can be put to use as an inarguable asset, or an issue. The choice at this point is up to the individual business and the state laws governing it.