Small employers can now offer health insurance to their employees at a significant savings for both the employer and employee through Washington’s Health Insurance Partnership, or HIP.
This federally funded program provides Washington small employers access to the same health insurance coverage available in the small group market, but the employer contribution rate is only 40 percent of the cost of coverage compared to the standard 75 percent. And employers who increase their contribution rate to at least 50 percent may be eligible for the federal small business tax credit, increasing their savings even more.
Small employers (1-50 employees) can enroll in HIP if they do not currently offer health insurance coverage to their employees, and if at least half of their employees are low-wage. To be considered low-wage, an employee’s monthly wages cannot exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (no more than $10.41 per hour or $1,805 per month). Employers can choose from a variety of health insurance carriers and plans that range from low-cost, high-deductible plans to comprehensive coverage.
Low-income employees and their dependents also may be eligible for help (based on family income) to pay their share of the coverage. HIP has about $2 million in subsidy dollars available in 2011, and anticipates nearly $10 million per year in subsidies through 2014. Subsidies are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, and to enroll in HIP, go to www.hip.hca.wa.gov.