Colorado Small Biz Insurers Can Now Charge More For Sick Employees

June 11, 2003 ( - Colorado Republican Governor Bill Owens has inked legislation allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to small employers with sicker workers.

>Owens plugged the bill as a vehicle to provide more affordable health care coverage to small business employees.   “Affordable health insurance plans simply have not been available for many small businesses in recent years, primarily because state law had eliminated the possibility of offering basic coverage,” Owens said, according to Washington-based legal publisher BNA.

>The previous systems of “all-or-nothing” was not working with escalating health care cots continuing to eat away at the small business bottom line, Owens said.   “Now Colorado’s small businesses will have the option of offering a basic lower-cost health care plan to their employees,” he said.

>This is achieved by allowing insurance providers to companies with up to 50 employees “to offer discounts to attract healthy groups back into the market,” State Republican Senator Mark Hillman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Moreover, Colorado law continues to guarantee coverage to those with the most severe health care needs.”

>To help implement the program, the bill creates a pilot program to allow small businesses to pool together in Multiple Employer Welfare Agreements (MEWA) to buy group health insurance, designed to give small businesses greater purchasing power.

The Colorado House passed an original version of the bill March 31 and the Senate passed it April 29.