Mountain View Voice

News - March 5, 2010

County program helps with health care

by Bay City News

Some uninsured low-wage workers in Santa Clara County can now enroll in a new program offering inexpensive health care coverage for small businesses that otherwise can't afford health insurance for their employees.

The Healthy Workers Program, developed by Working Partnerships USA together with the Santa Clara Family Health Plan and Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System, has been nearly four years in the making. According to Working Partnerships USA spokesperson Jody Meacham, the plan had to be approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, the state Legislature and the state Department of Managed Health Care.

Working Partnerships USA undertakes projects that benefit workers in Santa Clara County, Meacham said. Its first health care program, launched a few years ago, was a children's health initiative that aimed to ensure every child in the county had health coverage.

The Healthy Workers plan would be available to some of the approximately 90,000 uninsured workers who work in small businesses in the county, Meacham said.

"The health care crisis we hear about in the news today has been going on in the U.S. for several decades in Santa Clara County, and one of the biggest needs is that we have tens of thousands of workers that hold down jobs where they cannot afford health insurance," Meacham said.

To be eligible for the program, a business must employ 50 or fewer workers, must not be currently providing health coverage to its employees, and must pay a tax-deductible fee of $150 for every covered employee. Additionally, at least 50 percent of its eligible employees must enroll for the coverage to be offered.

Employees are required to work at least 20 hours per week, make $18 or less an hour and pay a premium of $75. Preexisting conditions do not affect eligibility. To enroll in the program, businesses can call (408) 410-0811.

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