Business Leaders Explore Affordable Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses in Central Texas Region

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Group Launches New Employer Survey

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In an effort to address the need for affordable health insurance, especially for small businesses, the Indigent Care Collaboration (ICC) has convened a team of Central Texas business, community, and healthcare leaders to launch a new initiative to identify potential solutions. The coalition includes Lone Star Circle of Care, Travis County Healthcare District, Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David's Healthcare Network, Austin Area Research Organization and the Shivers Cancer Foundation.

The group recently launched a web based survey to seek input from small businesses throughout the region, whether they currently offer health insurance to their employees or not. The survey link is:

The deadline for completing the survey is August 10, 2007.

"Our goal isn't to come up with a plan and ask everyone to accept it," says planning committee member Clarke Heidrick, Board Member, Travis County Healthcare District. "We want to hear directly from small businesses about what will work for them and how the right health coverage package can help businesses and individuals succeed and be competitive in our region and beyond."

Approximately 17.9 % of the people in Central Texas lack sufficient health coverage, even though the majority of them are employed. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2003, Texas ranked 48th in the nation, with only 52.4 % of Texans having employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Of the over 32,000 small businesses in the 6 county region of Central Texas, 40% are currently unable to offer their employees health insurance and most have not been able to for at least five years.

The survey was designed by the Indigent Care Collaboration after careful research and review of successful programs developed in other communities, including Access Health in Muskegon, Michigan; JaxCare Jacksonville, FL; and programs currently under development in Houston, Dallas, and Galveston.

"The lack of affordable health insurance for small business impacts everyone in Central Texas, and it's getting worse," says Andy Martinez, President/CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "If small businesses can't attract and retain employees while staying competitive and doing the right thing for their employees and families - then our entire regional economy is in trouble. It's time for small businesses to help figure out what kind of health coverage package will work for us. We can't wait any longer."

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Ed Melendez
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