From the Publisher (Jeff Hankins Publisher's Notes: Benefiting Arkansas)

by Jeff Hankins  on Monday, May. 5, 2008 12:00 am  

One of the most serious problems facing Arkansas businesses today is how to provide their employees with quality health insurance that is affordable for both employee and employer. Recognizing the day-to-day difficulties employers face, we at Arkansas Business, in cooperation with the University of Central Arkansas, welcome you to this symposium, "Benefiting Arkansas: Health Issues for Employers."

We hope you enjoy the event and find this accompanying special report of use. We have a distinguished lineup of speakers, many of whom have written overviews of their presentations for inclusion in this publication. To them I express my deep gratitude for their time, insight and assistance.

As the cost of health care has soared in the United States, the cost of health insurance has followed. Millions of Americans, including many Arkansans, are unable to afford health insurance and go without medical attention. Yet good, timely medical care is essential to a healthy, productive work force.

In the United States, the health care system has evolved into one in which employers often provide their workers' health insurance, subsidizing its cost to a greater or lesser degree. Health insurance has come to be perhaps the most important benefit that employees seek from their workplaces. Health insurance - its costs, its quality, what medical conditions it covers, how much is paid by an employer, how much the worker is expected to pay - can even determine which job an employee will take.

For their part, businesses must carefully weigh their options when it comes to providing health insurance. Health insurance costs go straight to the bottom line, yet many if not most Arkansans - and Americans - have come to depend on their employers for this benefit. In addition, to attract and retain the best workers, employers must be responsive to employees' needs.

Our speakers will address the challenges of the employer-provided health insurance system while seeking to offer some solutions to those challenges.

I must express my appreciation to the sponsors who helped make this event possible: The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, St. Vincent Health System and Transamerica Worksite Marketing.

I also must thank UCA President Lu Hardin and the university staff for their help in organizing and presenting the symposium. It is a pleasure to work with them.

This symposium and special report offer a unique opportunity to Arkansas employers to examine our health care and health insurance system and to consider solutions to its problems. My warmest welcome to you all.

(Jeff Hankins is president and publisher of Arkansas Business. He can be reached via e-mail at



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