Small-biz groups offer health plans to members
Friday, July 5, 2013
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
As the Oct. 1 deadline looms for open enrollment in the Small Business Options Program, or SHOP, a part of the health care reform effort, many small-business groups are teaming with commercial insurers to offer their own plans for members.
The Mesa Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Humana Inc. to offer the insurer’s Simplicity Plan for members with two to 99 employees, while the National Federation of Independent Business is teaming with Golden Rule Insurance Co. to offer small businesses access to health insurance plan options.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Small Business Association is working on a health plan for its 11,000 members statewide.
Rick Murray, CEO of ASBA, said he hopes to have a plan in place by the end of this summer. He said it’s too early to reveal the name of the insurer he is working with.
"If we can create a product that honestly can be very competitive and affordable for business owners, then that will give them more opportunity to work on their business and work on creating jobs rather than trying to figure out how to provide health care for their employees,” he said.
Murray said he receives dozens of calls a day from members asking what the association is going to do about providing health coverage for members.
"The programs we are trying to negotiate are going to be very affordable, from the low end of coverage to the gold standard of coverage,” he said.
These relationships are being forged between small-business groups and carriers at a time when it is unclear which insurers will be offering their health plans on the federal SHOP exchanges created under Obamacare.
Arizona is one of several states that have opted out of offering state exchanges, instead allowing the federal government to run their programs.
If small businesses and individuals select their coverage from the exchange, they will receive a tax subsidy. If they choose their health plan from other private carriers, they won’t get the subsidy, said insurance broker Heath Palen-McBee, owner of HKPM Group LLC in Mesa.
Palen-McBee and other brokers who are members of the Mesa Chamber will get to sell the Humana Simplicity Plan to chamber members.
"What they’re saying is it’s rewarding everybody all around,” he said. "The chamber gets their members educated, and broker members generate leads in business. For businesses that are receiving services, they know they are getting service from somebody within the chamber who are also members of the same organization.”
By Angela Gonzales, Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal
Source: Phoenix Business Journal