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The Healthy Michigan Plan has been serving the citizens of the state for nearly five months. Advocates say it’s already having an economic impact by providing the previously uninsured with health care, allowing many who were unemployed to return to the workforce. In fact, sign-ups quickly surpassed the first year enrollment target of 322,000 and the Michigan Department of Community Health reports thatcurrent enrollment stands at 355,699.

Experts say there are also economic benefits to the state when more Michiganders are insured. A recent editorial by House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) in The Detroit News read, “The Michigan plan also helps improve the health of our economy by reducing uncompensated care costs and offering job providers a healthier workforce.”

A healthier workforce and cost savings on small group insurance policies are benefits that led the Small Business Association of Michigan to be active supporters of the Healthy Michigan Plan. The official statement of this organization, dedicated to “Focusing the Power of Small Business,” says the Healthy Michigan Plan “will reduce the amount of uncompensated health care costs that ultimately get passed along to small business owners.”

SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler’s statement of support says, “the uninsured really matter to business.” The head of this 23,000 member organization of small business employers added, “People go to our health care system and they get care, and if they can’t afford it, they still get care but it’s uncompensated care. Uncompensated care actually gets passed along to those who can pay.” Employers care, he said, because “It’s found its way into the base rates of health insurance for small businesses all across the state.”

That’s one of the reasons Cynthia Kay is an advocate for the Healthy Michigan Plan. Kay owns CK Productions in Grand Rapids, is the author of Small Business for Big Thinkers and a blogger for The CEO Magazine. She has provided health insurance for her eight employees for more than 25 years because she says she believes it is the right thing to do and it helps her to retain her valuable and specialized work force.

“It seems counter intuitive for an employer to advocate for the Healthy Michigan Plan but it is not. I have discovered over the years that people don’t understand that we are already paying for healthcare for the uninsured when they visit emergency rooms – when they are sicker and costing the system more,” said Kay. “We have a responsibility to take care of the people in our state. The Healthy Michigan Plan is a responsible way for us to be able to get people the health care they need and to also have cost containment.”

The introduction of insurance for the uninsured has seen insurance rates for small business employers increase at lower percentages than in the past. Mark Hodesh, who owns Ann Arbor’s Downtown Home & Garden, says in past years the insurance he provides to retain his employees has increased by 20 percent or more, but this year’s rate increase was only 5 percent.

Michiganders can enroll in the Healthy Michigan Plan online atwww.healthymichiganplan.org, by calling 1-855- 789- 5610, or by walking in to a Michigan Department of Human Services office. Requirements to qualify include being between 19 – 64 years of age, not being enrolled in or qualified for Medicare or other Medicaid programs, and not being pregnant. The applicant’s income must be at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level – calculated using Modified Adjusted Gross Income – which comes to $16,000 for a single person or $33,000 for a family of four.

The affordable Healthy Michigan Plan covers health benefits while limiting deductibles paid by the insured. Covered services include ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity care; mental health and substance use disorder treatment services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services for 19 and 20 year olds, including oral and vision care.

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