retailers association of massachusetts

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WBUR: Small Businesses Band Together To Buy Health Insurance

By Jenette Kerr
WBUR Newscast

It’s a boost to small businesses in the state trying to lower their health care costs: The state has certified two business organizations as health care purchasing cooperatives.

The move will allow small businesses to band together to purchase health care coverage from insurance companies.

Jon Hurst is with the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, which is one of the certified organizations. “These are types of businesses that have seen, year after year, in a very tough economy — have seen double-digit premium increases,” he said.

Hurst says he hopes to start offering new health care options by April.

The Boston Globe story on the cooperatives is here, including:

State health insurers initially opposed the cooperatives, warning they could repeat the practices of association health plans from an earlier era. Those plans were outlawed in the 1990s after some associations sought to sign up businesses with younger and healthier workers, resulting in higher premiums for nonassociation buyers that purchased their insurance independently. Yesterday, insurers said they are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the new cooperatives.