Sugesstions and Warnings for Employers who now want to or need to offer insurance to their employees. (this page was updated 1/31/09)
First if you are a small business you may want to contact the Insurance Partnership www.insurancepartnership.org. The IP is a program for small businesses that have 50 full time employees or less (note there is no limit on how many part time employees you can have), are a sole proprietor, or are self employed, you may be eligible for the program. The IP helps small businesses and the self-employed pay for health insurance. All health plans purchased via the IP program must meet MCC requirements and the employer must pay 50% of the premium of an employee's individual plan. The IP can also direct you to a broker and/or association or membership organization. Please note if you are self-employed, we strongly suggest you first see if you are eligible for Commonwealth Care- the State's Subsidized Health Insurance plan-BEFORE you enroll into to the Insurance Partnership- see our Guide for Artists
Another option is to join your local chamber of commerce, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Business Association, the Small Business Association or another trade group to purchase health insurance.
Some businesses can also purchase insurance from the Connector and/or set up a Section 125 Plan through the Connector. For example, your small business may be eligible to purchase insurance through the Connector's via its Commonwealth Choice Plans. These plans are not subsidized health insurance plans, but are lower priced commercial health insurance plans. ALL Commonwealth Choice Plans meet MCC requirements. The self-employed, businesses and their employees may also purchase Commonwealth Choice Plans through the Insurance Partnership (Again please note if you are self-employed, we strongly suggest you first see if you are eligible for Commonwealth Care- the State's Subsidized Health Insurance plan-BEFORE you enroll into to the Insurance Partnership- see our Guide for Artists)
Some important tips for employers looking to purchase group insurance-
1) The Voluntary Plan offered by the Connector is NOT a group plan (even if an employer is contributing to their employee's premiums) and the Voluntary Plan will NOT protect an employer from the Fair Share Contribution fines.
2) Employers can also buy Commonwealth Choice Plans directly from the health insurance carriers and if an employer contracts directly with the health insurance carrier for its Commonwealth Choice Plan, the employer can set it up as a group plan.
3) Almost all of the Massachusetts based health insurance companies/carriers all require that for a group plan, an employer must pay 50% of the premium (for an individual's premium). So if a broker/insurance agent tells an employer that they can have a Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield group plan in which the employer only pays 33% of the premium (for an individual's premium) that is blatantly not true and will cause problems for the employer with the Fair Share Contribution regulations/requirements and also with the health plan (ie they will probably cancel your plan). We highly recommend that all employers get in writing from both their insurance broker and the insurance carrier what an employer's required premium contribution is (for an individual and for a family).
4) BEFORE any employer purchases a group health plan, they need to find out in writing what the TOTAL OUT OF POCKET COSTS are for their employees from the plan. In other words, talk to someone at the Connector, the Connector's Commonwealth Choice customer service center, a representative from the actual Commonwealth Choice health plan and/or an insurance broker. The Connector has set up a public information unit. The contact information for the unit: 617-933-3140 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ---The contact information for Commonwealth Choice service center is 1-866-636-4654--the TTY line for the hearing or speech-impaired is 1-888-213-8163