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September 2010 St@teside

Washington State Begins Enrolling Companies in Its Health Insurance Partnership

On September 1, 2010, enrollment in Washington State’s Health Insurance Partnership (HIP) began. The HIP program allows small businesses to provide more affordable health insurance for their employees. It is funded by a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services State Health Access Program (SHAP). In order to qualify, small businesses must have 50 or fewer employees, not currently offer health insurance, and have at least 50 percent of their workforce earning no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level every month. Enrollment levels could reach 1,100 employees by the end of 2011.

Through HIP, small employers have access to the same health insurance coverage available in the small group market with a required minimum employer contribution of 40 percent of the cost of coverage; the average in the current small group market is an employer contribution of 75 percent. Additionally, based on family income levels, eligible employees can qualify for premium subsidies of up to 90 percent.

Employers select a plan for their employees from a variety of health insurance options that range from low-cost, high-deductible plans to higher-cost, low-cost-sharing comprehensive coverage. Once the plan is selected by the employer, all participating employees enroll in the same plan.

Enrollment began September 1, 2010, and coverage will begin January 1, 2011.