Smart Benefits: RI Exchange Leads Way With Focus On Small Business
Monday, September 16, 2013
"HealthSource RI, Rhode Island's state exchange, is unique because it considers servicing small businesses one if its core values," said Christine Ferguson, Healthsource's Director, at a local conference Thursday sponsored by Cornerstone Group, which was attended by more than 175 employers.
The headline speaker, Ferguson emphasized that, since Rhode Island is built on small businesses, it was important to her to that HealhSource provide new and affordable options for these employers. She added that HealthSource is leading nationally with its attention in this area. How?
Expanding Small Business Selections
HealthSource RI will offer a SHOP marketplace in which small businesses (with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees) can purchase health insurance. The SHOP will offer two models of coverage for employers renewing coverage starting January 1, 2014.
Full Service Model
In this model, an employer determines a defined contribution, or set amount of dollars earmarked to pay for health coverage, and sets the employer contribution based on the reference plan at the selected cost level. Employees can choose the reference plan, or any of 15 other plans offered through the SHOP, by paying the difference in cost based on the employee's age and plan selected. This full-service model greatly expands selection for employees compared to the private market where insurers still only allow small employers to offer up to two plans.
Single Plan Model
If employers prefer, they may select one single plan. In this model, employers can still define a contribution and have employees pay the difference going forward.
Ferguson also stressed transparency as a key differentiator of the Rhode Island exchange. "Many other exchanges are focused on sharing only the employee share of the costs,” said Ferguson. “HealthSource is providing the whole picture. Individuals and employees will be able to see the true cost of the plan.
“Individuals will see the subsidy amount versus how much they are responsible for. And for small businesses, employees will see the employee share, and their share based on which plan they purchase,” Ferguson continued. "The only way to help people understand the true costs of health care, and to help them with their decision making, is to arm them with the facts."
Ferguson emphasized that employers should continue to work through their brokers and benefit advisors for assistance in understanding the new SHOP options and how the different selections would impact them and their employees. And if additional help is needed, either for brokers or for employees, Ferguson said HealthSource will be there to meet them.
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