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First Wave of Large Employers Opens the Door To Affordable Health Insurance For Over One Million
October 4, 2005
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Washington DC — In a nationally coordinated effort to address the sizable number of uninsured working Americans, several of the country’s largest employers have joined together to launch National Health Access (NHA), a program that will provide an estimated 1.25 million workers and their dependents the opportunity to obtain affordable health care coverage during this initial wave. HR Policy Association, a nonprofit organization of senior human resources executives of Fortune 500 companies, brought together large companies with major health insurers to sponsor NHA’s array of low cost health insurance options for workers without access to employer-provided coverage.

NHA companies, including Avon Products, Inc., IBM, Sears, General Electric, EMC, and Federal-Mogul are participating in the first wave to begin offering or making available six innovative NHA program choices over the next several months. The offerings available to their employees and independent contractors include discount programs, as well as a variety of health insurance options including major medical coverage. Covered services may include immunizations, checkups, wellness, inpatient/outpatient care, prescription drugs, mental health care, dental care, and other services depending on the plan level.

"The harsh reality is that millions of people are without health insurance,” said J. Randall MacDonald, senior vice president, human resources for IBM, and chairman of HR Policy Association’s Health Care Policy Roundtable. “Because our health care system is primarily employment-based, it makes sense for large employers to take collective action to try to come up with innovative, collaborative solutions to this pressing problem.”

"As the Company for Women, Avon has a rich history of providing women with earning opportunities that allow them to plan their futures,” said Maria Peninger, regional vice president, sales for Avon. “We are delighted to be able to offer our Representatives access to health care coverage and provide yet another way to ensure their health and well-being.”

"While NHA is not a cure-all, we’re proud to be a part of this combined effort by employers and health insurers to develop opportunities for the uninsured to gain coverage,” said Mike McCallister, president and chief executive officer of Humana Inc.

"NHA is a creative undertaking involving major employers, three major health insurers – UnitedHealth Group, Humana and CIGNA HealthCare – and Hewitt Associates as administrator,” said Jeff McGuiness, president of HR Policy Association. “Broad market reforms are necessary to reduce spiraling health costs and to ultimately begin offering millions of uninsured workers with access to health care benefits that they need and can afford.”

By pooling eligible workers from large businesses, companies are using their purchasing power to get insurance rates and terms that are more favorable than what workers would obtain individually. Those who are ineligible for company-subsidized plans can enroll in the NHA program through participating companies. This includes independent contractors, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, plus spouses and dependents.

"UnitedHealth Group has long supported collaboration among businesses, government, health care providers and health insurers to make health care more affordable and accessible,” said Dawn Owens, president of Uniprise Strategic Solutions. “This is a significant step forward in ensuring all consumers have access to the care they need.”

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