For small businesses with just a few employees, health care options can be limited and the options they do have are generally expensive. Larger corporations are able to minimize health care costs because they have a wider pool of workers keeping costs down, but smaller companies don’t have that same luxury.
Last week, Governor Ducey held a roundtable with a dozen small business entrepreneurs to field their questions and concerns about the small business climate in Arizona. Many of them highlighted the lack of accessible health insurance as one of their biggest struggles.
In fact, Software-as-a-Service firm Persosa CEO and Founder Gregory Lim pointed out at the roundtable that a handful of his peers chose not to pursue an entrepreneurship venture because the costs of health care were so prohibitive.
To help combat these woes, the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance – Arizona’s largest chamber advocacy group – announced on Monday that they will be unveiling a new health insurance pool for small businesses in the East Valley.
Through a partnership with Lifestyle Health Plans, the EVCCA is rolling out a health insurance affinity discount plan, which allows EVCCA member companies to pool funds together to create a more affordable health insurance plan.
“As the ever-changing health care arena has proven difficult to navigate, the partnership will offer a different kind of health solution for East Valley businesses,” EVCCA board of directors chair John Hetrick said. “The plan builds a robust wellness component with consumer-driven incentives and is offered to employers with two or more employees. With no limitations on industry sector, incentives include deductible and cash-back credits for wellness activities, free telemedicine, free lab services, free diabetic testing supplies and more.”
The level-funded plan is a pre-packaged, self-insured health plan with low-attachment coverage. Hetrick explains that Lifestyle Health Plans has a record of saving five to 15 percent on premiums through Chamber membership discounts. In fact, plans of this nature have saved some members up to 35 percent on premiums.
“We have sixteen standard plan designs to choose from, so whether a group wants a high deductible with no co-pays or a low deductible with co-pays for everything, there’s an option that’s going to fit that need,” Lifestyle Health Plans representative Joseph Herren elaborates. “All of our plans are ACA-compliant, so they can really compare the plans to what they currently have. And so, they’re not losing benefits – they’re actually gaining benefits in a lot of areas.”
Senate Bill 1085, championed largely by Senator Kate Brophy McGee, was the central legislation that allowed for a health plan of this nature. S.B. 1085 provides a new pathway for associations like the EVCCA, the Arizona Tech Council and the Arizona Small Business Association to band together and purchase coverages that are currently only available to larger corporations.
“By aggregating their membership, ramping up their purchasing power, small businesses can find better coverage for less money,” Senator Brophy McGee said. “Consumer protections and anti-discrimination protections that apply to the large businesses will also apply to association health plans organized under this pathway. There are many examples of AHPs that are operating within Arizona and throughout the country – Senate Bill 1085 provides access to better health care coverage for Arizona small businesses, owners and their employers.”
The level-funded plan effectively allows Lifestyle to bring large group benefits down to the smaller employers, Herren notes. It’s a massive step in representation for not only health insurance options, but for Arizona’s small businesses in general.