Group seeks Healthcare help

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2005

MARION-Small business owners in Marion had a roundtable discussion to discuss healthcare for their employees Thursday afternoon.

The group met with Dr. Jerry Ingram, who works closely with the program for Southeast Research Inc.

“I want to find out what they have, what they want, and what they are willing to pay,” Ingram told employers.

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This was the fifth session Ingram directed and a sixth was held in Selma last night.

The sessions are funded by a federal grant provided by the Alabama Health Department and are part of the IDEA, or Insurance Directions for Every Alabamian, project.

“The plan is to help inform dialogue so people who are uninsured can be insured,” Fern Shinbaum, assistant director for AllKids and director of the IDEA project, said.

Shinbaum said since receiving state funding in 2002, many new insurance plans have been created and offered to Alabama communities.

Ingram spoke to employers about why they think employees don’t take advantage of provided insurance plans. The main reason was the cost.

Although employers agreed health insurance was needed to have funds for preventative medicine and medical attention, urgent care, and to be able to afford prescribed medicines, they knew most employees didn’t make enough money to afford the monthly wages.

One participant said a lot of people look at healthcare as “an extra item.” Another said people need education about the benefits of healthcare from a financial and medical standpoint.

Ingram showed the small business owners a few insurance plans that may work for their employees, including the health savings plan.

And as he usual, he learned about a new issue.

A participant notified him of people loosing all of their benefits once they get a job, but then end up quitting the job to get their benefits back since their job doesn’t pay enough to cover the necessities.

The group agreed there needs to be a “supplemental” insurance that doesn’t cut people of once they are employed, but helps them until their funds build up to afford medical insurance on their own.

Ingram said she would look into trying to fix the situation.

The discussion ended with Diane Abernathy from AllKids, and Shinbaum informing participants of other insurance policies for children and employees.

“It went well,” Ingram said. “We had a lot of employers represented.”

The group consisted of auto repair owners, meat market owners, housing authority workers, church workers, funeral home owners and telephone, Internet, and cell phone service providers.

Refreshments were provided and participants were given $40 for their input.

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