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Riverside Health System Announces $1 Million Incentive Program For Small Businesses to Offer Insurance Coverage for Employees
Date:9/24/2008

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A leading nonprofit health care provider, Riverside Health System, is making $1 million in funding available to create incentives for small businesses in eastern Virginia to begin offering health insurance to their employees.

One million Virginians -- 15 percent of the state's population -- don't have health insurance. Two-thirds of uninsured Virginians are in working families; many are employed by small business that can't afford to provide health insurance. Over the past year, Riverside has been seeking innovative solutions to decrease this number.

"Paying for health insurance is particularly difficult for small businesses that often employ lower income workers," said Marilyn B. Tavenner, state Secretary of Health and Human Services. "That's why Governor Kaine tasked his Health Reform Commission with providing recommendations to cover more Virginians."

The 2007 Governor's Health Reform Commission Final Report highlights the need to make insurance more affordable for low income workers, defined as those earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It suggested a "Three-Sharing Financing Model," in which employers, employees and the Commonwealth each contribute toward monthly health insurance premiums.

A pilot program was proposed in the Governor's budget, but stalled in the General Assembly. When the Riverside Foundation found out the concept was stalling, it came forward with funding.

The pilot program, scheduled to begin this fall, is designed to provide premium assistance to low-income, uninsured workers employed by businesses of two to 50 employees. The program will target people at 200 percent of the poverty level or less who work for businesses that do not offer health insurance and have not offered it in the last six months.

Tavenner had hoped to reach 1,500 to 2,000 people and evaluate the program after two years.

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SOURCE Riverside Health System
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