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How To Get Small Business Health Insurance

In a competitive job market, adding small business health insurance to a benefits package is one way to attract top-tier employment candidates. These are candidates who might otherwise choose a less interesting, or even lower paying job, in order to secure a benefits package that is important to them.

Although it is still very difficult for small businesses to provide health insurance that can compete head-to-head with plans offered by large corporations, small business health insurance purchasing alliances and associations are finally providing competitive options that no small business owner can afford not to explore.

Health Insurance Purchasing Alliances and Associations

A health insurance purchasing alliance is a private, nonprofit organization. Through the alliance, small businesses can join together to form a purchasing pool. This enables the combined businesses to barter for lower health insurance premiums and more extensive service plans, because the total number of employees represented by the pool is much larger than the enrollment potential of each individual member of the purchasing alliance.

The second purchasing pool option that is available to many small businesses is an association plan. Associations, like purchasing alliances, barter for reduced health insurance premiums using the total enrollment of their membership for leverage. But in most cases, associations cannot command the same levels of premium reduction that can be attained by alliances. Associations generally require membership in a trade union, professional union, credit union, alumni association etc., which limits the membership potential, and so the bartering power. Alliances, on the other hand, can be open to all small businesses, no matter what they do or sell.

States must pass legislation to allow purchasing alliances to represent potential enrollment pools in barter with health insurance providers. Contact your department of insurance, health and human services, or ask at your chamber of commerce, to determine if alliances are legal and active in your state. If not, research your options to join an association that provides pooled enrollment. The obvious place to start is your trade association or union, if you have one. If not, cast a broader net. You may be able to join a credit union, or another broad-based group that barters for small business health insurance coverage.


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