The Business Council of New York State supports this bill, which extends, until 2011, the maximum premium rate differential established for group coverage for individual proprietors who purchase group health insurance through associations. The Business Council supported this provision in 2006 and a similar provision 2001 and 2002, when a rate differential was first enacted.
Associations, including the several hundred chambers of commerce across New York State, are often the only resource for sole proprietors to access affordable health insurance coverage. As the cost of health care coverage in general has increased dramatically over the past ten years, fewer options are available to sole proprietors. Chambers of commerce provide a vital service to their members – and to the greater public policy goal of ensuring that health insurance coverage is made available in an accessible, affordable means, to small businesses and sole proprietors.
The numbers being served are not insignificant, and reflect the changing nature of our state's economy. For example, 41 percent of the Greece Chamber of Commerce's members are sole proprietors, more than half of whom access health coverage through the chamber. The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce currently administers 296 sole proprietor health insurance accounts; the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce administers approximately 450 accounts, and the Long Island Association administers nearly 2,000 accounts.
This extension of the rate differential will ensure that coverage for sole proprietors through associations remains available and affordable. Chambers of commerce and The Business Council also welcome the opportunity to engage stakeholders in a broader conversation on the availability and affordability of health insurance coverage for sole proprietors to better understand the dynamics of this aspect of the health insurance market.