Gov Inks Seward Health Bill

James L. Seward

July 27, 2006

The governor has signed legislation into law that would ensure the continued availability of health insurance through local chambers of commerce for sole proprietor business owners, Senator James L. Seward, chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, said today.

Senate bill 6015-B limits the premium differential for sole proprietors to 15 percent of the rate established for group coverage if they purchase group health insurance through chambers of commerce and other associations. The result is that sole business owners like contractors, beauticians or carpenters will be able to get health insurance at the group rates offered by local chambers.

"The bill is critically important to the smallest of small business owners -- sole proprietors -- who need health insurance and can't get a group rate because they have no group," Seward said. "By letting sole proprietors purchase health insurance at a group rate through a chamber of commerce, we're continuing our efforts to make health insurance more available and to cover more people."

The legislation was originally passed in 2002 working in concert with local chambers of commerce and the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care, Seward said.

Chambers of commerce and other local employer associations have long played an indispensable role in meeting the health insurance needs of small business in general, and to individual proprietors in particular. The bill will ensure that sole proprietors will continue to have access to the same coverage as other small businesses. Without the legislation, insurers will be free to raise health insurance rates for sole proprietors beyond the 15 percent premium differential.

The legislation will expire on January 1, 2009.