New op­tions for small busi­ness health care com­ing

Cham­ber host­ing ShawHank­ins to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about new Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Ge­or­gia Cham­ber of Com­merce

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­

One of the big­gest prob­lems a small busi­ness owner can face is the cost of cov­er­ing them­selves and em­ploy­ees with health in­sur­ance.

Large com­pa­nies and lo­cal gov­ern­ments have some abil­ity with the help of busi­nesses like ShawHank­ins to bring those costs down, but in the case of an em­ployer who might only have ten peo­ple on staff or less, that ne­go­ti­at­ing power is less­ened since they aren’t spend­ing large amounts for pre­mi­ums an­nu­ally.

Now there’s a new op­tion for small busi­nesses who are look­ing for af­ford­able health care op­tions with the same cov­er­age level of­fered to larger or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The Polk County Cham­ber of Com­merce is bring­ing ShawHank­ins to the Richard­son Field De­pot on Tues­day, De­cem­ber 4 for a break­fast meet­ing to dis­cuss this new SMART op­tion, or the Small Group Em­ployer ASO Rated Trust plan.

Cham­ber Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Blair El­rod said it was an ini­tia­tive put to­gether by the Ge­or­gia Cham­ber of Com­merce and Blue Cross-Blue Shield through their An­them cov­er­age to al­low small busi­nesses from two to 50 em­ploy­ees to work as one large group plan.

“When small busi­nesses go to get in­sur­ance, it’s at an as­tro­nom­i­cal cost and some­times can’t af­ford it,” she said. “Now there’s go­ing to be an op­tion where our small busi­nesses can en­roll in health­care that is more af­ford­able, and have their cov­er­age be part of a larger pool where the risk is shared statewide.”

The Dec. 4 break­fast meet­ing is set to start at 8 a.m. and last an hour and half, with break­fast pro­vided by Chick-fil-A.

“All of our small busi­nesses lo­cally can come and hear about the plan and see if it is some­thing they are in­ter­ested in tak­ing part in,” El­rod said.

The new plan will be self­funded from par­tic­i­pants to spread the risk out, El­rod ex­plained. She said as well the plans will be flex­i­ble and pro­vide pre­dictable, fixed monthly pay­ments for busi­nesses as well for pre­mi­ums. ShawHank­ins said in a pro­mo­tion for the new plan that it could pro­vide as much as 40 per­cent lower rates than cur­rent ACA rates.

El­rod said ad­di­tion­ally den­tal, vi­sion, life and dis­abil­ity in­sur­ance are among the op­tions avail­able for those who want to par­tic­i­pate as well at dis­counted rates via the Cham­ber’s SMART Plan.

There are some stip­u­la­tions for tak­ing part. Em­ploy­ers in­ter­ested in the shared cov­er­age can have no more than 50 on staff, and have to be head­quar­tered and op­er­at­ing in Ge­or­gia. Ad­di­tion­ally, they have to be good mem­bers in stand­ing with dues paid to the Cham­ber of Com­merce.

El­rod said the plan is also be­ing pre­sented to busi­nesses lo­cally in Pauld­ing, Floyd and Bar­tow coun­ties.

Any­one want­ing more in­for­ma­tion can con­tact El­rod ahead of the meet­ing by e-mail at direc­[email protected] polk­ge­or­, or call 678-883-9255.

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