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10/10/2013

Fort Worth chamber introduces health plans for members

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has teamed with an Iowa firm to offer its members employee health insurance. One plan is aimed at making it easier for small employers to self-insure, and another is designed to reduce reinsurance costs for larger employers that already self-insure. The program was introduced today at the chamber's annual healthcare summit. Ron Fuhrman, benefit advisor for True North Companies, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said self-insurance allows companies to avoid fees and mandates of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Small employers traditionally have not had the finances to self-insure their employee health benefits. Self-insurance entails being directly responsible for the cost of medical care for workers up to a certain dollar limit, after which a "stop loss" insurance policy kicks in and pays additional the expenses. Under the chamber's plan, companies with fewer than 50 employees would join a pool in a co-op and buy policies with a variety of benefits. (The co-op is private. It is not one of the publicly funded health insurance co-ops established by the ACA, also called Obamacare.) That plan and the plan for larger employers would both get stop-loss coverage from the same insurer. Fuhrman, who presented the plans at the summit, said it's the first time his company has offered the program to a chamber of commerce.

He said the co-op needs at least 250 employees and dependents to launch, which he anticipates being "no problem at all." For other details of the program, visit the chamber's web site here.

-- Jim Fuquay

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