Lower-Cost Insurance Offering For Nc Business Gets Ok

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Insurance companies can offer North Carolina small businesses a different kind of health coverage that limits provider options but also attempts to reduce costs in a measure heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

The legislature gave final approval this week to the idea of exclusive provider benefit plans.

They work somewhat like preferred provider organization plans, which offer in-network doctor and hospital options, as well as cover out-of-network choices that require more out-of-pocket costs. Exclusive provider organizations cover no such out-of-network services, except during an emergency or when in-network providers can’t offer a medical necessary service.

While large, self-insured companies already can offer EPO plans to their workers in North Carolina, small businesses can’t without the measure, according to Senate Republicans pushing the bill. They said EPOs can cost 15% to 20% less than PPO plans -- making them a lower-cost option for businesses struggling to offer affordable insurance to workers.

The bill received unanimous Senate support on Thursday, two days after the House voted 97-6 for the measure. Cooper will be able to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.