Skyrocketing Insurance Rates Have Some Worrying

Thursday, May 1st 2008, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

We're in the middle of what's called "Cover the Uninsured Week" in Oklahoma. The state chamber says the skyrocketing costs of health insurance make it difficult for many small business owners.

The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports the statewide program is called "Insure Oklahoma"

For small business owners who qualify, it gives premium health insurance at wholesale prices. One company says it if wasn't for this program, they'd be sweating over the budget, instead of on the treadmill.

Planet Fitness is a new gym. But it has the same old sounds and the same old problems.

"We were shopping around insurance companies all over the place, and you know, it's really expensive," said Jorge Roldan of Planet Fitness. "And when you have a family, it gets really, really expensive."

The gym has 3,000 members and a dozen full-time workers. But providing the employees with health insurance was too expensive.

"For employees, working maybe some minimal hours, or young employees, you know, they can't afford health insurance on their own," said Michelle Fisher, owner of Planet Fitness.

Fisher says the Insure Oklahoma program lifted a big weight off her shoulders.

"It's actually affordable, they can actually have insurance," said Fisher.

"It's a huge relief to know that we're fully covered," said Roldan

Roldan says the gyms able to offer cheap insurance to full-time workers.

"Where it typically costs someone $200, $250, for an individual plan, through the program, I believe, it comes out to about $40 a month," said Roldan.

Insure Oklahoma picks up 60% of cost for insurance premiums. Employees only pay 15% of the tab.

"We have HMOs, we have co-pays, we have no deductibles, prescription benefits, the full-blown package," said Fisher.

To qualify for the program, a business has to have 50 or fewer employees and be located in Oklahoma.

"We're fully taken care of," said Roldan.

And because of that peace of mind Roldan can take better care of his clients.

Insure Oklahoma is partially funded through the state tobacco tax.

Insure Oklahoma is sponsored by The News On 6's parent company, Griffin Communications and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.