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Health insurance options

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Many area businesses are looking into providing health insurance whether or not they're required to under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Local health insurance agents say around 80% of area businesses are considering offering health insurance to their employees.

Businesses with 50 workers or more are required. This type will receive some tax benefits. Meaning they can deduct certain insurance expenses from their taxes.

Businesses exempt who decide to offer coverage anyway, will get a tax credit. NC&W Insurance Agent Manager Richard Walton says, "Especially around here, most people don't want to pay a penalty to the government. They'd rather take that money and offer some sort of benefit to their employees. And there's tax benefits for them too. You're not going to get any sort of tax benefits on paying a penalty to the government."

Some businesses who are currently offering coverage are finding ways to continue despite increasing costs. Amarillo's Colonial Life District Manager Helen Rodriguez Burton says, "What they're doing is they're raising their deductibles. So let's say last year they had a $3,000 deductible. They're raising it to $5,000 this year. Putting in what's called a gap plan, an indemnity plan. And being able to offset some of the expenses with that plan."

This agent says they're lowering their co-insurance from 80-20 to a 70-30 and even a 60-40 so they can keep the costs down.

Insurance plans could average around $200 to $400 per employee, but it depends on the group. Walton says, "You have to consider, you know, the gender. And just your population of employees. How old they are, are they smokers, are they healthy, or not healthy."

Those required but choose instead to pay a penalty are looking at up to $3,000 in fines for each employee annually.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.

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