Bipartisan Proposal Offers Small Businesses Affordable Health Insurance Options

Posted on February 21, 2023


A coalition of business groups, chambers of commerce, and non-profit organizations today joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to support legislation offering healthcare relief for struggling Connecticut small businesses.

HB-6710 allows small employers to pool together to jointly purchase large group health insurance plans directly from a carrier, making health insurance more affordable and accessible.

Small employers with less than 51 employees cannot currently access the large group market.

Many of these employers are increasingly moving to level-funded and self-funded arrangements due to the small group market’s rapidly increasing premiums and limited health benefits.

Under this bill, groups can negotiate directly with an insurance company to design a plan that meets their needs with lower administrative costs, rating flexibility, and increased buying power.

The bill also allows trade and industry associations of significant scale to offer self-funded insurance plans regulated by the Connecticut Insurance Department and subject to the Affordable Care Act’s 10 essential health benefits and state-mandated benefits.

These plans will help improve patient outcomes, incentivize healthy lifestyles, and keep healthcare costs down.

“HB 6710 offers two pathways to lower health insurance costs for small businesses instead of the multiple barriers to affordability that many of them face now,” said state Rep. Kerry Wood (D-Rocky Hill), co-chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

“This legislation would allow for unique plan design, allow companies to pool their risk, and avoid market volatility.”

“The broad-based, bipartisan, and bicameral support for this legislation is very encouraging,” said Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and state Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), ranking member of the Insurance Committee. “It shows that we all agree that for middle class Connecticut families, businesses and nonprofits, the cost of healthcare is anything but affordable.”

“The Senate Republican Caucus recently unveiled ‘A Better Way to Affordable HealthCare’ a set of legislative proposals aimed at lowering the cost of healthcare in Connecticut. Our plan does that by enabling the marketplace to work better for the consumer, and one part of our plan includes the ideas set forth in this legislation. We will continue to champion this initiative because it is a thoughtful and impactful solution to provide relief. We won’t stop fighting to create a more affordable Connecticut.”

“Connecticut’s small businesses have been struggling for years with an inhospitable business climate, and are now facing an historic labor shortage,” said Insurance Committee ranking member state Rep. Cara Pavalock-D’Amato (R-Bristol) said.

“Anything we can do to help them offer their employees a critical benefit at a lower cost is just common sense. Allowing our local employers to work together under their trade associations to skip the failing small-group market and access a significantly-cheaper self-insured plan is both innovative and empowering.

“Previously, I had some concerns with this approach, but I applaud the committee and the small business community for refining the proposal into something I wholeheartedly support.”

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the bill will help address the state’s labor shortage crisis.

“We need to embrace all solutions to address this critical issue and grow the state’s workforce,” he said.

“Allowing small businesses to join together to negotiate healthcare will help them to provide valuable benefits to meet the needs of their employees, keep healthcare costs down, and attract and retain workers.”

Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance president and CEO Gian-Carla Casa said the proposal helps put nonprofits on equal footing with larger employers when it comes to offering health benefits.

“Many smaller nonprofits are struggling financially and want to provide high-quality, more-affordable health plans for their employees,” he said. “This proposal could give them and their workers the same safe and regulated choices that large employers have.”

Credit Union League of Connecticut president and CEO Bruce Adams called the legislative a positive step not only for its members, but also for their communities.

“As cooperative businesses, Connecticut’s credit unions support their local communities by returning profits back to their members,” said Adams.

“Allowing them to purchase health insurance collectively would put more money in their members’ pockets, support the local economy, and help credit unions compete for talent.”

Organizations supporting HB 6710

The Credit Union League of Connecticut
The Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance
National Federation of Independent Business
Connecticut Restaurant Association
Connecticut Brewers Guild
Berlin Chamber of Commerce
Bristol Chamber of Commerce
Connecticut River Valley Chamber of Commerce
Farmington Chamber of Commerce
Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce
Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce
Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce
Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce
Mystic Chamber of Commerce
Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce
Plainville Chamber of Commerce
Plymouth Chamber of Commerce
Quinnipiac Valley Chamber of Commerce
Windham County Chamber of Commerce
Wolcott Chamber of Commerce