2 of 8
In October, Maryland began offering small businesses insurance through the Health Insurance Partnership, a premium subsidy program for small business. Eligibility right now is limited to small businesses with between two and nine employees that have not been able to offer health insurance to employees in the previous 12 months and whose employees have an average salary of less than $50,000. Businesses that meet these criteria may receive a subsidy of up to 50% of their health insurance premium. Employers have their choice of health benefit plans offered by CareFirst BCBS, Coventry Health Care, United Healthcare and Aetna.

The state wanted to focus on its smallest businesses because that is where the lack of health insurance is most acute, says John Colmers, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Reimbursement goes directly to the health insurer, so agents still get full commission on their sale, but the employer gets a bill that's half the size it would otherwise be.

"This means agents have no disincentive to sell to these really small businesses," Colmers says. Right now about 550 individuals are enrolled; the department is hoping to enroll 1,500 businesses this year.

NEXT: Montana

LAST UPDATE: Jan 28 2009 | 9:53 AM ET
Sponsored by
The hidden business killer Soaring health-insurance costs hurt small companies more than their big rivals. Here's how smart entrepreneurs are coping. More
5 ways to tame health care costs Finding affordable insurance is an exercise in frustration for many entrepreneurs, but there are ways to simplify this grim task. More
New visions America's health care system is expensive and inefficient. Here's what 6 entrepreneurial companies are doing about it. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.