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But with a May 17 deadline to get their exchange offerings to the state for review, some say they don’t have the needed lead time to get well-thought-out plans off the ground. Developing a new insurance product can take a year, said officials of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
Insurance broker Mary Setter has spent the past year keeping her small-business clients abreast of activity at the Legislature and explaining how the Affordable Care Act and new insurance exchanges will affect them.
“Many of our clients won’t know if they’ll go on the exchange until they know what it looks like,” said Setter, of RJF Agencies in Brooklyn Park.
Midsize businesses with more than 50 workers face the more-difficult choice — many are too small to have a human resources department but too big to avoid paying a fine if they don’t provide a decent workplace health plan. Setter said she’s already seeing more premium increases than in previous years because plans “are starting to price for provisions of health care reform,” such as women’s preventive services.
The state plans to begin a marketing campaign by summer, as it will be vital to attract young and healthy people to the exchange to spread out the risk and keep prices affordable. That’s the concept that drove the controversial individual mandate.
At Ovation Framing, Borowicz and Drury want to expand their $800,000-a-year business, which produces framed promotional and original artwork, mostly for corporate clients.
The company faces a 10 percent hike in premiums this year through Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Borowicz said. He is 61 and Drury is 64, skewing the pool for their more-youthful employees, who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“I want it to be a fair market,” Borowicz said. “I don’t want these discriminated pools.”
The policy renewal comes up in May, and Borowicz said he’s hoping to find a bridge solution until he can comparison shop on the exchange in October.
Because Ovation has fewer than 50 workers, Borowicz can either use the exchange to buy group coverage or give his employees a set amount of money and let them find the health plan that best suits their individual needs. Borowicz isn’t sure which tack he will take.
“It’s a big culture shift to have people go out and do it on their own, even if it might take care of my headaches” he said.
“I’m president — and janitor — but I’m also the HR guy. Employees like HR.”
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335