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State chamber’s small-business insurance plan gets boost

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The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry rolled out the state’s first-ever self-funded health insurance program in 2017, and a new bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson this summer now allows insurance brokers to market the plan publicly.

The Chamber Benefit Plan, which began being marketed statewide this week, is a joint effort between the state chamber and local chambers of commerce, according to a news release. Previously, the chamber was not allowed to market to any business that was not already a chamber member, said Brendan Cossette, chief operating officer for the state chamber.

Previous state law said that “no multiple employer self-insured health plan shall be offered or advertised to the public.” With the passage of Senate Bill 514, the law now exempts plans approved by the state, like the chamber’s plan, and allows "any willing licensed broker to quote, sell, solicit or market such plan,” according to SB 514.

The plan uses a multiple employer welfare arrangement model, or MEWA, which enables smaller employers to join together and share in the overall claims risk by being part of a larger self-funded pool. Currently 1,200 small businesses are part of the plan, which is providing coverage to 17,000 Missourians, according to the Missouri chamber.

With Parson’s approval of ending marketing restrictions, chamber officials say they expect those numbers to rise.

“We are thrilled that the Chamber Benefit Plan is now marketable to all eligible businesses in Missouri. Members tell us frequently how the plan has stabilized and reduced their insurance costs while offering great coverage for their employees,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri chamber, in the news release. “We are grateful to the leaders in the Missouri Capitol who took swift action to clear the way for small employers to gain access to medical coverage and savings that directly impact their bottom line, and we look forward to spreading the word.”

The plan is offered to Missouri businesses — with up to 50 eligible employees — that are members of a chamber of commerce in the Missouri Chamber Federation, according to the release. Cossette said the plan is offered through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri and HealthLink Inc., which is available in all Missouri counties.

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committed to simplifying health care and we’re proud to partner with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to expand the Chamber Benefit Plan, an innovative solution that helps address the rising cost of health care for Missouri small businesses,” said Amadou Yattassaye, president of Anthem and HealthLink, in the release.

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