A pilot program in Central Oegon could help employers provide healthcare coverage for themselves and employees who previously could not afford their own insurance.
HealthMatters of Central Oregon recently launched SharedCare, a community health improvement plan designed to provide affordable and comprehensive health care coverage to lower-wage earners in Central Oregon.
According to a report by the Oregon Health Authority, there is a total population of 216,310 people living in the tri-county region. Of these, 36.5 percent are employed, 19.3 percent are uninsured, and families earn an annual wage of $34,735. For many, those average annual wages make them ineligible for public assistance programs such as Medicaid or the Oregon Health Plan. With the cost of individual health plans so high they cannot afford traditional insurance from the private marketplace, especially if it is not offered and subsidized by their employers.
CBN estimates there are at least 13,000 small businesses operating in Central Oregon. Owners tell us that one of their top concerns is the cost of health insurance and that even group plans are too expensive for the company to provide.
An innovative healthcare program, SharedCare, is taking place that was specifically designed for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It’s a unique, start up program that has great potential to provide insurance for those previously uninsured. The plan emphasizes preventative medicine and provides affordable access to primary care providers to detect health problems earlier and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
The model program provides small businesses and their employees with a comprehensive network of Central Oregon providers who have agreed to offer health care services at rates that allow for adequate reimbursement and affordable co-pays.
If you are a local business that does not provide health insurance for your employees you should check this program out. To qualify you cannot have an average wage above $16 an hour for those employees (including yourself) who apply. Note that not all employees need to be included in the application, so if some people have higher salaries and already have their own insurance you don’t need to include them in the application.
The Health Improvement Option charges a lower premium and lower co-pays in return for annually completing a Health Risk Assessment and actively participating in a Health Action Plan designed to achieve specific health goals. The plan does not have a deductible and does not exclude people with pre-existing conditions from coverage.
The plan costs just $98 a month which can be split between the employer and the employee. We cannot emphasize enough the opportunity that this program has to improve the quality of life for small businesses and their employees.
Businesses interested in learning more about SharedCare should call HealthMatters at 541-647-1765. www.healthmattersco.org. PHA