Expanding Health Coverage

Friday, November 9th 2007, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

Nearly 20% of Oklahomans don’t have health insurance. Many of those either own their own business or work for a small business. Now the state is using money from a tobacco tax and federal funds to help lower the number of uninsured. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports the program is called Insure Oklahoma.

For nearly a decade, a small business owner in Ottawa County struggled to come up with the money to care for her diabetes. That struggle came to an end earlier this year when she signed up for the state plan focused on helping small business owners and their employees.

Mary Hunt-Hansen and her husband have owned 4 State Stone since 1999.

“Oh my gosh, we love owning our own business,” said Mary Hunt-Hansen, small business owner.

That love comes with a few lumps. One of the biggest, she says, is affording health insurance.

“For four people in my family, two children and two adults, it was well over $1,000 a month. As a small business owner, especially in rural America, rural Oklahoma, it's hard to make ends meet,” said Mary Hunt-Hansen.

Now the Hansens have an option. It's called Insure Oklahoma. A state program aimed at helping small business owners and their employees pay for health care.

Small businesses with 50 employees or less may sign up, while certain income guidelines apply, Insure Oklahoma pays 60% or more of the premiums for qualified employees.

For Mary, the program has special meaning. She's diabetic and, before Insure Oklahoma, she was digging deep in her wallet to keep it under control. Now she's saving upwards of $600 a month just on medications.

“It doesn't sound like much, but $500 to $600 a month, pouring that into the economy. If all the small business owners had that extra money, it'd be awesome,” said Mary Hunt-Hansen.

Saving money and her piece of mind, she says, and possibly saving her business.

If you are a small business owner interested in the Insure Oklahoma program, click here.

Watch the video: Getting Medical Coverage For More Oklahomans