Health insurance offered by chamber Member firms get low group rates

July 13, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

To help out its smaller members, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce is offering a group health insurance plan for companies that employ up to 50 people. Rates are based on the average age of the employees, not the type of industry or claims history.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult for small business owners with one or two employees to get affordable group rates," said chamber Executive Director Helen Utz. "We thought we could work as a large group to get the rates for them."

Three plans are available: two Blue Cross/Blue Shield preferred physician plans and a health maintenance organization plan with CareFirst. The Chamber of Commerce will not receive any money from selling the plans.

Under either Blue Cross plan, patients may visit any doctor they wish.

The more expensive 100/80 plan will pay all expenses for medical visits and hospitalization minus a $10 to $15 co-payment if the patient sees a doctor in the preferred physician network. For doctors outside the network, the company will pay 80 percent of the expenses after a $200 deductible.

Companies may also choose the 90/70 plan, in which Blue Cross pays 90 percent for doctors in the preferred physician network jTC and 70 percent for those outside.

Group life insurance, group disability income insurance and dental insurance are other options companies may add.

"I checked Blue Cross/Blue Shield to make sure they were a viable carrier before settling on this plan," said chamber member R. Wayne Barnes, who has been putting the health plan together since last fall.

Mr. Barnes, the former chamber president, is president of Barnes-Bollinger Insurance in Westminster.

"Despite all the publicity, they are," he said of Blue Cross. "This is a quality plan with lots of flexibility. Some of the other companies had coverage glitches I don't care for."

The Carroll County chamber went with Blue Cross because it agreed to cover businesses with one employee. Also, its plans have been used successfully by the Harford County, Howard County and Reisterstown/Glyndon Chambers of Commerce, Mr. Barnes said.

For companies with employees with an average age from 30 to 39 years, rates are $135.06 per person per month for the more expensive Blue Cross plan. The less expensive plan is $123.12 per person per month for the same category.

"There are companies that will give lower rates," Mr. Barnes said. "But when you compare coverage, I would put these rates up against anybody."

About 50 chamber member businesses have signed up for the plan since it was offered in April, Mr. Barnes said. Also, at least 12 county businesses have joined the Chamber of Commerce since April to take advantage of the plan, Ms. Utz said.

However, the plan needs more members to be successful, Mr. Barnes said.

Information: 848-9050 or 876-7212.

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