Chamber gets on board with Louisville to offer group insurance to its members

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce has added a membership benefit that has attracted numerous local businesses to join: a health insurance program.

Outside of payroll, health insurance is the second- or third-largest expenditure a business incurs, said John Funkhouser, chamber member with Johnson & Pohlmann insurance company in Danville.

So, in October, the Louisville St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce began offering group medical insurance plans through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to its local chamber members. It reached out to several other area chambers to see the interest level in forming an association group in order to offer the insurance. The local Boyle chamber got word and joined in. 

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Now, Funkhouser said between St. Matthews and the local chamber, there are nearly 3,000 individuals currently participating in the association’s group insurance plans, which took effect Jan. 1.

As stated previously by the chamber’s former director Paula Folwer, “With the huge increases caused by the Affordable Care Act and health care reform, our small business members have been searching for relief.”

Valery McMann with Farmers National Bank, who sells the plans for the local chamber, said the health insurance business is very complicated. And because of the ACA, choices in health plans have become limited.

She said this plan “is just one more option” for business owners to have available. “I am happy to offer any alternatives out there.”

Health insurance is very important, McMann said. Even though the mandate for everyone to have health insurance has been repealed, “it is everyone’s responsibility to have health insurance … and financial peace of mind. We are all just one disaster away from being in real financial trouble.”

Interim chamber Director Myrna Miller said, “It was a real treasure to find this group health insurance and to be able to offer our members the plans.”

In fact, several businesses have recently joined the chamber just to take advantage of the group plans.

“The chamber plan has allowed us to offer something to our members and potential members that we didn’t have previously,” Funkhouser said. He said since October, they have written 21 group insurance policies, 11 of which were for businesses that joined the chamber just for the health insurance benefit.

“I don’t care that they join just for the insurance. The chamber will take them all, all day long,” Funkhouser said.

Anyone can join the chamber. “One of the reasons why, with the chamber plan, it basically takes only two people to make a group within (the plan) to be viable for group coverage,” he said. “There are a few exceptions, but I still say it takes two.”

Every business’ plan — whether it’s made up of two or 50 people — will be based on medical underwriting. 

“So depending upon the health conditions within that group, it may be advantageous to get the chamber plan. Or they may be better off to stay with an ACA-graded group plan,” Funkhouser said.

Sometimes, the plans will save the business a lot of money, Funkhouser said. 

“I have a current client that was with Anthem and their group plan was an ACA plan. This particular client, with five individuals, their 2017 monthly rate for health insurance was $2,685.14, with one family coverage plan. The rest were individuals. Renewal for 2018, if they stayed with the same plan, was going to be $3,275.58. I was able to put them with a similar plan through the chamber for $1,775.54,” a savings of about $1,500 a month.

“That doesn’t happen all the time. I want to make that very clear. Some people may not see that type of savings. This group was fortunate that they had three young, healthy males under age 35 within the makeup of the group,” Funkhouser said. “Because the chamber plan is medical underwritten and age/sex related … when you have young, healthy males, that helps drive down the cost.”

Lisa Knetsche, with The Spine Center in Danville, said, “I can sing its praises.”

She said their business’ health insurance cost was going up 33 percent this year. However, a plan was found through the chamber that kept the rates the same as 2017.

Knetsche said the chamber insurance plans give businesses an opportunity to purchase affordable insurance.

In order to receive a quote for group health insurance, interested parties don’t have to be members of the chamber. 

“If somebody is just wanting to kick the tires, just to see what the rates look like, and they’re not a chamber member, they don’t have to join to go through the application process,” Funkhouser said.

He said when he started this process with Fowler, one of the first questions he asked was would a business have to join the chamber before getting an insurance quote, and the answer was “no.”

“That’s good because the last thing I want to do is make somebody write a check for membership into a program that they thought they were going to get a benefit out of with insurance, then find out that because of medical reasons, their rates are higher than what they currently had,” Funkhouser said. “That leaves a sour taste in someone’s mouth.”


To find out more information on group medical plans the chamber is offering contact:

John Funkhouser at Johnson & Pohlmann, (859) 236-2441; or Valery McMann at Farmers National Bank, (859) 238-0606