Small group health insurance refers to a single policy that provides coverage for all eligible employees or members and, in some cases, the dependents of those employees or members. The premium is usually based on the risk to the insurer, depending on factors, like age and gender, of the entire group. While there is no guarantee of coverage for an individual person, the law requires insurance companies to provide coverage to small groups. Usually, a small business employer cannot be denied coverage as long as they pay their premiums, have been in business for more than two months, offer health insurance coverage to all full time and part time employees, comply with employer contribution and employee participation requirements, and have not committed fraud against the insurance company. Small group or small business health insurance plans typically provide coverage for groups of two to fifty people. Group coverage has advantages that are often unavailable with individual policies.
Small group health insurance eligibility varies but typically has common requirements. Usually, if an employer offers group coverage to any full time employees, they must offer it to all full time employees. Full time is often defined as working at least thirty hours per week. For part time employees, those who work between twenty and twenty-nine hours a week, the employer can decide whether they wish to provide coverage but if any part timers are covered, all must be offered coverage. Dependents, such as spouses and children, are often offered coverage but cannot enroll unless the employee enrolls as well.
Non-business group health insurance is rarely taken advantage of by individuals looking for a low cost health insurance plan. While participants will not have rates as low as those with employer-sponsored plans (because there is no employer helping to pay the premiums) they will still save money because of the group discount. Many organizations simply do not realize that they are able to take advantage of such plans. As an individual seeking health insurance coverage, you may inquire about a group policy with organizations of which you are a member or even seek out an organization that would provide this sort of plan. Consider alumni associations, religious organizations and other groups.