A Different Kind of Health Plan
for Members of the Chamber of Commerce
By Dorothy Hardee & Andrew Cole
Two years ago, the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce formulated group benefit plans for its members. This past June, the chamber implemented another benefit to assist our business members and their employees during this pandemic. These benefits were launched from the needs of members who could not afford insurance plans for their employees.
The original health benefits consisted of telehealth and supplemental health plans. Now the chamber is also offering a direct primary care plan allowing members and their employees access to in-person doctor visits, urgent care visits, discounted prescription drugs and telehealth.
As we reach half a year of the COVID-19 nightmare, many businesses are teetering on the brink, trying to decide which expenditures make sense to continue. So, you ask yourself why you should consider membership in the East Orlando Chamber. As businesses are looking at ways to save money and to retain and attract employees, the chamber’s direct primary care plan offers a group rate of $77 a month per person, with pricing individuals would find hard to beat.
The chamber partnered with Joe Filice, president of Avalon Insurance Services, to provide members some of the most unique benefits around. In fact, this move makes our organization the first chamber in the state to offer an affordable package for any size business.
How Chamber of Commerce Works
A company that leverages this opportunity for its employees can benefit from a reduction in its payroll taxes. Additionally, because these benefits are voluntary, a business is exempt from having minimum employee participation, from making contributions to the employee plan, and from adhering to an open-enrollment schedule that sets a certain deadline each fall for employee registration.
Filice, who is the plan administrator, explained the value of this program to small businesses, especially now when money is tight and businesses are seeking to hire top talent to fill their needs:
“These are interesting times for everyone. The need for health care may have come up in your workplace, especially if you don’t currently provide benefits. These discussions are happening now with the individual open enrollment season quickly approaching. You can implement the chamber plan during any month, and employees can go live whenever they choose.”
Another important distinction is the tax advantage. Everything the employee contributes comes off that individual’s taxes.
When employees contribute and have fees deducted from their paychecks, they not only pay lower taxes, but this lowers the company’s payroll, payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance obligation.
“There are a lot of things to talk about when talking to business owners because they don’t always consider this option in the beginning,” Filice said. “When employees start asking about benefits, business owners tend to get nervous, thinking more about being on the hook for some money. But at the end of the day, you are actually lowering your payroll taxes and workers comp, which saves you money in the long run.”
If you take advantage of a voluntary plan through payroll deduction, there is a tax benefit. “When employees elect coverage, that coverage comes out of their paychecks,” Filice said. “When that coverage comes out of their paychecks, you are lowering your payroll, ultimately lowering your payroll taxes and workers comp. By offering the voluntary benefits, it isn’t costing you anything out of pocket, and it allows the employees to enroll themselves and family members at a level they desire. It is definitely something to consider, especially now during these trying times.”
What’s in the Plan
If your business has a challenging employee population, like delivery drivers, Realtors, contracted 1099 employees or hourly restaurant staff who can’t or choose not to pay full-fledged major health insurance, you can offer voluntary insurance so this doesn’t come out of any company pay. This allows employees to pick the coverage that is applicable and to spend the money they desire to spend, while still not providing any employer cost.
“Ninety percent of my job is service,” Filice said. “It’s easy to meet people and sell them something; that’s not the challenge. The challenge is keeping the promise when you sell something. This is where 90% of our focus is: educating people, business owners, their clients and employees so everyone can make the best selection for their needs. We pride ourselves on doing all the service for them. It is what differentiates us from others. We have a national reach with neighborhood service. We want to be an extension of your HR department.”
Direct primary care is now available to members and their employee’s ages 2 to 65, and it accepts all pre-existing conditions. Through a proprietary private physician network (PPN) across the nation, this benefit is breaking down barriers to convenient access to quality medical care with a focus on promoting healthy living while preventing disease. It also includes unlimited direct primary care visits for $10 per visit or $25 for an urgent care fee.
Additionally, it includes unlimited telehealth with $0 out-of-pocket cost to your immediate family as well as a prescription plan covering more than 200 medications for between $1 and $10 each.
Dorothy Hardee is the chamber administrator and an implementer of creativity and collaboration, partnering with members to grow personal and professional brands, as well as elevating chamber visibility with unique and timely topics and events. She can be reached at Dorothyh@eocc.org or 407-277-5951.
Andrew Cole is the president/CEO of the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce. He is driven to help businesses thrive by connecting them with the right clients, products and services. He can be reached at Andrew@eocc.org or 407-277-5951.