Health Access Plan has new health insurance program

Health Access Plan, NFP, 1601 Parkview Ave. announces the final development of Health Access Plan, a new health insurance premium subsidy program designed to cover a portion of small business workers in Winnebago County who do not have access to health insurance through their employers. Rockford Health Council has been working to develop this plan since September 2001, with development and operational costs funded by federal grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Small Business Administration.

Health Access Plan, NFP, was created in December 2002 to manage the new plan. Congressman Don Manzullo was instrumental in securing funds from the SBA to help launch this plan and support the premium subsidy during the first year of operation.

Health Access Plan is now enrolling a pilot group of local small employers. “We believe this program will provide an incredibly valuable service to the community,” said Ray Empereur, president of Health Access Plan. “The program is aimed at small employers that simply haven’t been able to afford the cost of health insurance for their employees. Now they will be able to offer this important benefit, improving the health and quality of life for working people.”

Once operational, the program will provide several important benefits for the Rockford community. Specifically, it will:

n Improve the quality of life for previously uninsured workers in Winnebago County by providing the incentives to seek out preventive care rather than relying on costly emergency room care;

n Allow small employers to provide a health insurance benefit that they previously were unable to afford, thus providing a valuable economic development tool to attract and retain small employers in the area; and

n Reduce uncompensated care costs for area providers by increasing the number of area residents who have health insurance coverage.

Subsidy based on a ‘third share’ model

A first for Illinois, this plan is built on the “third share” model, meaning that the monthly premium costs of the program are split evenly among the employer ($50), employee ($50), and public sources ($50). This model is aimed at serving modest-income workers whose employers cannot afford the cost of providing health insurance as an employee benefit. The third share plan is being test marketed to small employers in Winnebago County, and similar plans have already been successful in several counties in Michigan and Florida.

Health Access Plan details

Health Access Plan will insure workers with a median wage of $12/hour or less, who are employed in area small employers with between three and 25 employees. Eligible employers must not have offered health insurance for at least one year. Pan American Life, a traditional indemnity plan, is the insurer.

Those eligible for the plan include part-time and full-time employees who are not eligible for other public programs like FamilyCare or Medicaid. Spouses of eligible employees can be enrolled as dependents under this program.

Based on input from a wide range of stakeholders in the community, the plan has been designed to be heavily weighted toward preventive care (i.e., primary care including prescription drugs) but also includes a limited benefit to cover specialty care, and inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

Small employers interested in learning more about the Health Access Plan, including whether they and their employees might be eligible to participate, should contact the Health Access Plan at 395-5701, 395-5702 or 395-5708. Eligible employers will be referred to one of several local insurance brokers who have been authorized to complete enrollment.

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