Small businesses need flexible solutions when it comes to benefits coverage

by Rick Murray

asba-benefits_coverageBefore the Affordable Care Act (ACA), large groups like the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) had the ability to negotiate specific plan designs and rates with carriers based on underwriting requirements. In most cases, it created a preferred buying opportunity for our members. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, that opportunity has been largely neutralized by requiring certain minimum benefits and no underwriting based on previous medical history.

ASBA’s sole purpose for existing is to help small businesses be successful. Negotiating preferred rates on healthcare was a huge part of why some business owners chose to be part of ASBA. With that taken away, we had to figure out what role ASBA would play, if any, in helping small business obtain healthcare coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has been part of the healthcare landscape for a year now. While much of the confusion still exists around the mandates and tax credits of the ACA, the marketplace (or shopping experience), has begun to take shape. The idea of a one-stop, easy-to-use shopping experience never materialized…at least until now.

That’s why I am excited to announce that the Arizona Small Business Association has partnered with ConnectedHealth to launch Connect2CoverageAZ, a co-branded version of ConnectedHealth’s award-winning Smart Choices™ Marketplace. It is an online health insurance and benefits shopping platform where someone can have health insurance can be purchased in as little as 12 minutes. Connect2CoverageAZ allows business owners, their employees, and their family members to shop for health insurance plans and other ancillary products from national and regional health insurance companies based on their personal preferences and financial goals.

This new offering assists users in navigating the complexities associated with selecting health benefits, while helping them understand the total financial impact of their benefit options. The new portal is also fully integrated with the federal marketplace and allows members and their employees to determine if they are eligible for government financial support for their health coverage.

Connect2CoverageAZ will help ASBA participate in delivering relevant benefits to our members and their employees. ASBA launched the new service in December and I am excited to also offer this new technology to everyone in the Arizona business community, whether members or not, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ insurance.

Small business owners need flexible solutions when it comes to benefits coverage for their employees and Connect2ConverageAZ delivers it simply and efficiently. This effort will also continue to position ASBA as a forward-thinking organization helping not only its members but all Arizonans to stay healthy and attract top talent to grow their businesses.

Rick Murray is chief executive officer of the Arizona Small Business Association.

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