The problems in the small-group health-insurance market have finally gotten Washington's attention. Among the Pepper Commission's less controversial health-care proposals were calls for such reforms as requiring insurers to sell to everyone in a small group, not just the best risks. The Health Insurance Association of America is suggesting similar changes. Still, all action on health care may have to wait until after the 1990 elections. "I think this is a year of education," says Carolynn Miller of the National Federation of Independent Business. "And the 102d Congress is a year of legislation."
Other news from Washington: there's a good like-lihood of repeal this year of the hated Internal Revenue Code Section 2036(c), which curtailed the "estate freeze" method of cutting inheritance taxes on family businesses, says John Paul Galles of National Small Business United. . . . The National Association of Securities Dealers is waiting eagerly for the SEC to approve Rule 144A, which would facilitate institutional trading of private placements -- and thus greatly expand the market's appeal. NASD already has plans ready for PORTAL, a NASDAQ-like electronic exchange for the private-placement market, pending SEC approval.
A San Francisco company is trying to set up a systematic market for used TV ads. Four-year-old AdExchange sets up royalty agreements with companies that have created successful regional advertising and then licenses the ads to companies elsewhere. The cost of a reedited ad is $6,500 to $8,500 per television market, compared with an average production cost of about $40,000, according to AdExchange founder Henry Whitfield. So far AdExchange has focused on health care and banking to develop a library of 450 TV commercials; now, the company is planning to expand into retail ads.
Fran Jabara, founder of Wichita State's Center for Entrepreneurship, got some unusual students this semester: four Soviet managers came to Kansas for a crash course in entrepreneurship. The four-week program was part of a new interest by Soviet managers in U.S. business education. What did they learn in Wichita? "The most impressive thing [about the U.S. economy] is the ability to start your own business," concluded visitor Alexandre Medvedev.
Companies that export to Western Europe can expect growing pressure to ship on open account as Europe's 1992 accord approaches. As intra-European trade barriers fall, U.S. companies that insist on letters of credit will find their hassle and expense a competitive disadvantage, several trade experts say. However, stresses Tony Brown of New York City-based Trading Alliance Corp., the risks of doing without are manageable with research and such precautions as credit insurance or export factoring.
-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf
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