Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce offers new approach to small business healthcare

Mark Stanton

The East Valley Chamber of Commerce Alliance is launching a health insurance affinity discount plan to help local proprietors — chamber of commerce members, specifically — provide effective health insurance plans.

The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is no exception and is offering local chamber members a savings between 5% and 15% who opt to participate in the program.

Through partnership with Lifestyle Health Plans, the chamber alliance is offering customer-driven plans for companies with two or more employees with incentives attached including:

  • Deductible and cash-back credits for wellness activity;
  • Free telemedicine;
  • Free lab services; and
  • Free diabetic testing supplies.

To better understand the partnership and the participation points of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Independent Newsmedia reached out to CEO and President Mark Stanton. This is what he had to say:

•How did this idea originate regarding a joint effort to provide health insurance plans to Chamber members?

The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is one of seven Chambers that make up the East Valley Chamber of Commerce Alliance. Last year, the CEOs of the respective chambers were discussing the top issues facing businesses in our communities and health insurance costs was the top of the list. Health insurance directly impacts workforce development, business growth and our overall quality of life. We formed a task force to look at establishing a competitive health care insurance option specifically for Chamber members. That research brought us to the decision to initiate an affinity health care plan for our respective chamber members. This option offers quality, cost-competitive health care benefits for businesses as small as two employees.

•What problem does this effort seek to solve?

Benefits are the second largest expense to employers, next to payroll. The challenge of managing costs while still maintaining a competitive benefits package is the challenge this partnership is seeking to address.

•How important is it to employers and employees to provide fair and adequate healthcare coverage?

The ability to offer competitive and robust benefits is crucial for an employer to attract and retain employees and continue to move their business forward. According to the Society for Human Resource Managers, costs associated with employee absenteeism and low productivity is approximately $1,700 per employee per month. This means the health and wellness of employees is crucial for a business to grow and prosper. From an employee standpoint, 92% of employees surveyed by SHRM report benefits are important for their job satisfaction.

Clearly, the health and wellness of employees is critical for an employer, is a workforce issue, and being able to enrich those benefits for a manageable cost is a necessity. To advance the business environment, it is critical that chambers of commerce are constantly seeking new solutions and more options for their members. This benefit option is a great opportunity for our member businesses and their employees.

•What are the hurdles small businesses face in providing affordable and adequate health coverage to employees?

Forbes recently published an article stating that the cost to employers for health benefits is increasing at a rate double that of inflation. The costs are ever-increasing and oftentimes businesses are pushed into raising deductibles or decreasing coverage just to keep the cost at a manageable level. About 92% of employees surveyed by SHRM report benefits as a key component to their job satisfaction. The facts are clear, the costs for employers are out of control while the importance of benefits is unquestionable for the retention of workforce.

•Why is it important for options like this to exist in the local business community?

Healthcare is the only arena in which people are forced to choose a service without knowing the cost upfront. AHP’s equip both employers and employees with increased transparency and information so they are able to be better informed healthcare consumers. Options like AHP’s are important so that employers and employees are equipped with the ability to choose, to have another option to explore and in turn be in control of their own costs.

•Is this kind of advocacy a part of the 21st Century chamber of commerce approach at the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce?

The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to a fostering a business-friendly community. In the 21st Century it’s clear that the challenges businesses face are evolving, as they evolve so too will the advocacy and efforts of the chamber. The Scottsdale Area Chamber, and EVCCA as a whole, are committed to standing with business as new challenges arise and will remain focused on bringing new solutions for our membership.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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