Happy Jack Adventures is a successful small business, much like the many others the federal government hopes will line up to buy health insurance for their workers once the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act fully kicks in.
Yet fearful of sharp premium hikes and with a mostly young, seemingly healthy workforce of 50, Jack McCormick, the founder and CEO of the Seattle, Wash.-based adventure tourism company, has something else in mind.
About 60 percent of insured American workers already are in self-insurance plans. Most of these workers are either in unions or employed by larger companies.
Self-insured employers pay for most worker health costs directly, though they typically contract with an insurer or another company to administer claims. Employers that self-insure buy coverage known as stop-loss to keep one huge claim from wiping them out.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, just 15 percent of insured workers at firms with fewer than 200 employees are enrolled in self-insured plans, compared to 81 percent of insured workers at larger firms.
But, again, smaller employers are now increasingly exploring this option and large health insurers such as United Health Group and Humana are helping these employers – including those with as few as 10 members – sign up.