Small Business Health Care that did not need an Act of Congress

If you have been listening in on what is going on in our nation’s capital, you know that the healthcare battle continues to wage. 

But did you know that if you are a small business based in the state of  Arizona, there is – and has been for some time – a healthcare option that  is reasonably affordable, fully accessible, guaranteed issue and is available for companies of ANY size – even groups of one.  AND if you have employees out of state – or they have dependents out of state, it works for them too!

As a large group plan it does not base your acceptance or your company’s rates on your health condition or the condition of your employees.    All of the association members are in one big pool and it is on the performance of the pool that the rates are set.

How do I know this – BECAUSE I HAVE IT.  And if your company was in Arizona, you could too.  As a member of the Arizona Small Business Association – ASBA – you are eligible to join the ASBA plan at the following times:

1.  If you are a new member – after being in the Association for 90 days and then the first of the month.

2. During open enrollment each November

3.  If you already have a group plan, you can switch to the ASBA plan on your plan renewal date.

Now, before you get mad at me for selling on this blog.  I am not.

I’m trying to make a point.

If you look at the details of the ASBA HSA Qualified plan, it has about the same level of benefits as what President Obama is fighting for:

1. Guaranteed Issue – you can not be turned down

2. Reasonable Rates – Based on this White House report the ASBA plan is right about in the middle of the pack.

3.  Out of pocket limits similar to those suggested by the President.

4.  The President is calling for one improvement ASBA does not have – eliminating the life time maximum – and the ASBA plan on the HSA side does have a $1M cap.

But here is a big difference – while on average, in the western states, family insurance rates have gone up 5% each year (15% net from 2006 – 2009 if you do the math ) – the ASBA plan has gone up a net 3% TOTAL from 2006 to 2009.  Thus this plan, from a little business association in Arizona, did 12 points better than the regional average!

It did not take an act of Congress to do this…

What it took was a group of small business owners coming together to form a larger group that looks like a bigger business.  Association based healthcare plans work for Small Business.  Just as Small Business is the primary driver that puts this country to work.  Yes, Congress has a role in continuing to work on the factors that are driving aggregate healthcare costs up, but if they had spent more time looking at ways to control costs and create and support more programs like the ASBA plan than bickering over a Public Option that, as we saw this week – they could not pass – we might be further along right now.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Authors note:  While I had the honor to serve as the CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association from December 2006 – December 2008, I no longer have ANY affiliation with the organization other that as an active member and as a business that participates in the plan.  This post was not reviewed or endorsed by the Arizona Small Business Association prior to publication.

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