Co-op Thinks Big for Small Business Health Insurance

. Posted in small Business questions


Tired of hearing about health care? It would be tough to blame you. The headlines seem to trumpet nothing but certain doom: skyrocketing costs, prolonged political battles, and tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

Rapidly rising premiums touch a particular nerve with small businesses: You want healthy, happy employees, and you need to offer a solid benefits package to attract and retain talent. But when every dollar counts, quality health insurance can be a budget buster.

So how about some good news for once?

Look to South Carolina, where yesterday the state’s first small group health insurance cooperative opened its doors for business — small business, to be precise. The South Carolina Healthcare Cooperative is a private, non-profit group that enables small businesses to pool their resources and contract for health insurance plans as a single, larger group — at lower rates. In simple terms, the cost of a group health plan goes down as the size of the group goes up. As one unit, the co-op’s members could have access to the types of discounts usually reserved for much larger companies. South Carolina businesses with 2 to 50 employees are eligible to participate.

The co-op, the first of its kind in South Carolina and one of only a handful nationwide, is the product of 20-year-old president and CEO Cooper Littlejohn. He put the idea, enabled by state legislation passed in 2008, into motion while working as a summer intern at Nuttall Insurance Agency in Seneca, SC. The co-op recently completed the state regulatory agency’s year-long licensing process. It receives no government funding or subsidies.

Though the cooperative concept is not necessarily new, the South Carolina approach could see copycats elsewhere — if it’s successful. That will depend largely on the number of businesses that sign on: as reported here, estimates on the number of covered people needed to get the co-op off the launching pad range from 1,000 to 5,000, and as many as ten times that to keep it running long-term. South Carolina is home to roughly 80,000 small employers, according to the SBA.

On paper, it seems like a no-brainer for small firms struggling to find affordable insurance for their people. At a time when the rhetoric swirling around small business seems to be increasing in volume, it’s a good example of the brass-tacks entrepreneurial spirit: sometimes it’s healthy to think big, no matter your actual size.

Kevin Casey has worked for more than 11 years as a writer and editor at companies large and small. He is a regular contributor here and at InformationWeek. Follow him at twitter. com/kevinrcasey. View all posts by Kevin Casey This entry was posted in Trends and tagged benefits, cooperative, health care, health insurance, healthcare. Bookmark the permalink.
Learning when you are allowed to and how to start a non profit business are critical steps in a busi
Starting a business and need to learn how to start a limited liability corporation? For those who w
Interested in learning how to start a corporation? Let’s start with an overview… A corp
In this article we’ll cover the definition of sole proprietor. There are a multitude of small
What is the definition of a corporation? This article will explain the basics of the corporate entit
Alphalogix has again upgraded their popular Versona Instant Messaging System by adding the capabilit