Missouri Business Headlines

Senate committee considers small business health insurance legislation

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In today’s tight labor market, many small businesses in Missouri strive to retain and offer value to their employees. Providing health insurance is often a fundamental part of those efforts, but small employers are struggling to keep up with its rising costs.

What many of those employers likely don’t know is that the Missouri Chamber brought a new type of insurance to the state in 2017, enabling its eligible small business members to join together and share in the overall claims risk as part of a larger self-funded pool.

However, this cost saving option is one of the best-kept secrets in Missouri health insurance. Current Missouri law prohibits multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) from being publicly marketed, making them nearly impossible for a small business to discover. If a Missouri health insurance broker’s client is not a member of a MEWA provider’s association, legally the broker can’t mention the program to that client.

“We cannot market it to them, we cannot talk to them about it. They have to come to us and ask us about it,” explained Wallstreet Insurance Group Principal/President Lee Wilbers, a MEWA broker.

Fortunately, a solution is working its way through the state legislature.

After passing in the House earlier this April, House Bill 942 sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann has moved to a Senate committee for consideration.

“What we’re trying to do is remove those restrictions for MEWAs in Missouri that have been approved to operate in Missouri by the Missouri Department of Insurance,” Wiemann said during the hearing.

Wilbers testified in support of the bill.

“We have groups that have saved a significant amount of money — anywhere from 5 to 20 percent…To be able to go out to the public and at least tell them about it, really that’s what this bill allows us to do,” Wilbers said.

The Missouri Chamber also voiced its support.

“The way the statutes are now, it’s kind of like going to a restaurant and not getting the full menu,” said Brendan Cossette, Missouri Chamber chief operating officer. “This allows all options to be discussed by the brokers and therefore is quite a help to small businesses.”

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