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For the Bulletin
While the world of health insurance can change quickly, it is still the law to have health insurance this year.
For small-business owners who have trouble finding and choosing the best health insurance for their employees, BeWellNM, New Mexico’s health insurance marketplace, hosted a free informative luncheon on June 13 at the Frank O’Brien Community Center where they could learn more about their insurance options.
BeWellNM for Small Business is a New Mexico insurance program formed in 2013 as the state’s response to the Affordable Care Act to guarantee small businesses the ability to offer employee health plans regardless of preexisting health conditions.
BeWellNM presenter Ileana Jaramillo said all plans offered through BeWellNM for Small Business cover the standardized list created by the ACA, and include choices of comprehensive health care and dental plans.
“Studies show employees are more likely to stay in a workplace where they feel their employer cares about them, and offering them health insurance demonstrates that you care,” Jaramillo said. “I firmly believe an investment in the health of your employees is an investment in the health of your company.”
Jaramillo said one benefit of the BeWellNM plans is that they provide access to preventative care, which can help employees avoid prolonged illness.
“Instead of being absent for five days, your employee might be gone for only two,” Jaramillo said. “Not only does preventative care provide peace of mind to your employees, but it offers peace of mind to yourself knowing your employees are going to be okay and be able to see a doctor when they need to.”
BeWellNM offers four insurance “levels,” of bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with 34 plan options within these levels. All plans are through New Mexico Health Connections and Presbyterian. The options are designed so that the employer chooses how much of the premium they wish to pay, and the employee is then allowed to choose the option within that price range best suited to his needs.
“We all have different medical backgrounds, and this takes the stress off you as the employer to figure out what is best for your employee,” Jaramillo said. “You choose what you want to pay, they choose the plan.”
There is an incentive for employers to contribute to their employee’s health plans, as participating businesses may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of their contributions.
Many of the community members in attendance were small-business owners, but also attending were brokers. Martha Sanchez, a broker in Las Cruces, said she attended because many of her small-business owner clients come to her with questions about insurance.
“I think small businesses would be more apt to go through BeWellNM because of the tax credits,” Sanchez said, adding that New Mexico is a unique insurance market since below-average wages mean many employees rely on Medicaid.
Sanchez expressed concerns about upcoming changes in health insurance, as did other community members in attendance.
“The health insurance world is changing rapidly and it’s going to continue to change,” Jaramillo said. “Health care costs will continue to rise, so it’s better to get the coverage now.”
BeWellNM for Small Business is for businesses of 2-50 employees and offers free services from certified agents or brokers. For more information, visit www.bewellnm.com or call 1-833-862-3935.
Avra Elliott is a Las Cruces freelance writer who may be reached at Elliott.firstname.lastname@example.org