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Agency offers benefit option



Published: Tue, June 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Health-care plans provide access to major health facilities in the region.

CLEVELAND -- Small businesses facing health insurance rate increases from popular carriers and organizations in Northeast Ohio may have alternative and possibly cheaper sources for coverage.

A new health insurance program offered by BBB Healthcare Alliance, composed of the Better Business Bureaus of Youngstown, Cleveland and Canton, may be able to reduce premium costs by 15 percent or more for comparable coverage, according to an alliance news release.

BBB Healthcare Alliance is offering its members plans from United Healthcare, one of the nation's largest health-care insurance providers, and Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit health plan in the United States.

All United Healthcare plans for groups of two to 99 are offered, and Kaiser Permanente plans include its Prosper and Added Choice plans for groups of one and above.

Kaiser plans will not be offered through the Youngstown BBB because it does not serve that part of Ohio.

"We anticipate that many of our members will be able to achieve substantial savings vs. competing comparable plans in the area," said Mike Paris, president of the BBB Healthcare Alliance and the Canton BBB.

"In some unusual instances, such as those involving certain pre-existing conditions by employees, our plans may not offer appreciative savings or will actually cost more. But the evaluation and quote are free to BBB members, and they would be prudent to explore their options in this era of rapidly increasing health-care insurance premiums," he said.

Insurance brokers throughout the area that are BBB members and licensed by Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare may sell the coverage. Small businesses interested in learning more about the programs or being referred to a participating broker may call the BBB Healthcare Alliance at (800) 722-2093.

Plans offer access to medical institutions such as Cleveland Clinic Hospitals, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Summa Health System, Akron General, Forum Health facilities, St. Elizabeth Health Center, Doctors Hospital and Mercy Medical Center and their physicians.




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