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Large U.S. Firms Plan Health Insurance Pool

Rather than wait for Congress for help in extending medical coverage to the uninsured, a group of dozens of Fortune 500 companies has announced plans...
May 18, 2004

Rather than wait for Congress for help in extending medical coverage to the uninsured, a group of dozens of Fortune 500 companies has announced plans to form a pool that could cover as many as four million uninsured workers. A.M. Best reports that the pool would allow those companies to get health coverage for their workers at lower prices than they could if they negotiated coverage individually. Forty-five firms have joined to form the Affordable Health Care Solutions Coalition, whose roster includes such companies as IBM, Ford Motor Company,  Sears, Roebuck & Co., General Electric, Honeywell International Inc., McDonald's and Shell.

The plan was announced May 10 by HR Policy Associates, a Washington-based trade group consisting of the senior human-resources executives of 210 of the country's largest employers. As proposed, the pool would extend coverage to part-time, contract and temporary workers, consultants and vendors -- all workers whose numbers have increased in recent years. The coverage also would be made available to employees who, because of tenure, aren't yet eligible for coverage; retirees who are younger than 65 but are ineligible for insurance; former employees who have exhausted their 18-month COBRA benefits; and children of employees who are students but who are no longer eligible for health coverage. The coalition pool would seek bids from health plans and be up and running by spring 2005, according to HR Policy Associates.

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