In fact, only 32 percent of our state’s small businesses offer Texas health insurance to employees, as opposed to 89 percent of our large employers. The program, called Healthy Texas, helps combat this issue by providing “eligible small employers with the option of purchasing an affordable benefit plan that is compliant with the benefit requirements of federal health insurance reform.”
According to the Insurance Journal, “eligible employers that purchase coverage for employees and their dependents through an approved participating private health plan can save, on average, up to one-third on premiums.” That’s a huge boon to small businesses currently thwarted by a down economy and shaky federal health care legislation.
Healthy Texas does not provide a premium subsidy to small employers. Instead, it utilizes both public and private funds to address claims costs and to pay participating health insurers for costs that fall within a defined range. The program’s success hinges upon its ability to strategically target state dollars to where they are most needed and can do the most good – in this case, low income, uninsured employees of small businesses.
To enroll, employers can apply directly through participating health plans, Celtic Insurance Company and United Healthcare, or apply through a Texas health insurance broker. Healthy Texas considers the following requirements when determining program eligibility:
- – The employer must qualify as a small business with 2-50 employees
- – An employer must not have provided group insurance 12 months prior to HealthyTexas application
- – At least 30 percent of employees must receive annual wages at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level
- – The employer must pay at least 50 percent of the premium costs for employees
- – At least 60 percent of eligible employees must elect to participate in the program
The Healthy Texas program provides a means for small businesses to offer affordable Texas health insurance to their employees and is a big step in our state’s quest to insure more residents.