Monday, May 22, 2006

Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses

One of the concerns frequently expressed about working for very small businesses is that only about half provide health insurance coverage for employees. This lack of coverage is understandable given the high administrative and coverage cost of health insurance. Some options presently used include a combination of medical savings accounts and catastrophic health insurance (essentially the George W. Bush plan), AARP insurance (if old enough) and discount programs which do not provide insurance as such but qualify the holder for discounted rates with qualifying health professionals (most commonly used for vision and dental needs). Massachusetts has passed a law which covers uninsured citizens--it will be interesting to see what happens there. At this point, the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) has opened a website, which provides information about healthcare insurance alternatives for small business owners.

I am not a particular fan of centralized health insurance (though that is a very political issue that I don't want to address in depth); at the same time, the high cost of health care makes health insurance almost a necessity. I applaud the NASE for this guide and hope that office managers of small or very small businesses which either do not provide health insurance or are considering eliminating health insurance coverage because of high administrative costs will research this website. An additional question--is there any reason, especially in middle-sized and larger cities, why chambers of commerce could not form groups to allow better prices to small employers for health insurance?


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