Less care, low costs
Arkansas invites small employers to sign up their uninsured workers for no-frills health care at an affordable price.
by Michelle Andrews, FORTUNE Small Business Magazine contributor

(FORTUNE Small Business Magazine) - For another approach to easing small companies' health-care burdens, look to Arkansas. Governor Mike Huckabee is launching a new program that will offer limited health benefits to low-income employees - six doctor visits, two emergency-room or outpatient hospital visits, and seven days in the hospital every year, plus two prescription drugs a month - for monthly premiums of either $15 or $100, depending on the patient's income. This approach will test the appetite for cheaper, bare-bones health benefits; officials of a few other states have already inquired about it.

The initiative, funded in part by Medicaid, is aimed at Arkansas's 80,000 uninsured workers, most of whom labor for small companies. To promote wider coverage, employers joining the program must sign up all their workers. The launch date is not yet set, but Huckabee spokesman Jim Harris says the plan - which required no state legislation - will begin signing up companies later this year and is already drawing interest from small employers that want to attract the best workers and keep them healthy: "If you've only got five workers, and one of them is out sick for a week," says Harris, "you're in big trouble."

What proposals are there for small company health-care coverage? Click here to find out.

The new Medicare drug coverage program open enrollment is nearing an end. Find out moreTop of page

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