Group health plan unveiled |

Group health plan unveiled

As of July 1, small business owners in the Roaring Fork Valley will be able to join a group health insurance plan like no other.”This is a pilot program others will wish to emulate,” said Bill Hanisch, executive director of the Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan, a nonprofit organization created to provide quality health care coverage at competitive prices. Hanisch was part of a press conference at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale Thursday to officially announce the new health plan to thepublic. He said the program is the only one of its kind that he knows of in the country that collaborates with hospitals and chambers of commerce. `Rural health care crisis'”There’s a rural health care crisis,” said Brad O’Neill, a development consultant and general agent for RFVCHP with Van Gilder Insurance Corp. of Denver.Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan was one of 36 pilot programs across the country to receive federal grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Rural Health Policy. The RFVCHP received $500,000 in 1998, and has been organizing its launch since then.The new plan offers businesses with one to 50 employees the opportunity to join a group health insurance plan from a major insurance carrier – in this case, PacfiCare -that is managed by a local nonprofit.Brian Crary, regional vice president of PacifiCare in Colorado, said local insurance brokers will work with PacifiCare to sign small businesses up for the new plan. PacifiCare is already the health insurance provider for Roaring Fork School District Re-1. “The collaborative effort of this health plan is what makes it unique,” said Hanisch. “We aim to provide all community members with health insurance that is under local control and retains money in our own communities. “We also offer small business plans that can be designed to suit individual needs. And we offer health education, responsibility and prevention,” Hanisch added.Marianne Virgili, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, is a member of RFVCHP’s board of directors. “There’s a crying need for health care,” she said. “It’s great to see this collaboration.”Already, the Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Basalt chambers are represented on RFVCHP’s board. She said she hopes to involve Carbondale, Rifle and perhaps Eagle in the future. What’s a small business?Hanisch said that the RFVCHP’s formation was a result of a significant lapse in coverage for small business owners and the self-employed, who pay costly rates or simply can’t afford health insurance for themselves or their employees.Under PacfiCare’s group enrollment plan, O’Neill said, businesses with just one employee must submit, among other material, a copy of tax information for the business, a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license and a business “group of one” health questionnaire. Groups of two to 50 must submit current unemployment insurance tax reports. All applicants must also provide their prior carrier’s summary of benefits and prior carrier’s itemized billing.Hanisch said within a week, Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan should have a list of local insurance brokers that small business owners may contact to sign up for health insurance for coverage beginning July 1. For more informationTo find out more about the Roaring Fork Community Health Plan contact:-RFVCHP office at 704-9421, or visit Chamber Resort Association: 925-1940-Basalt Chamber of Commerce: 927-4031-Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association: 945-6589Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext.

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