300 Businesses Join Awb Health Insurance Program During First Year

The Washington Association of Business declares itself “more than pleased” with enrollment in its HealthChoice insurance program launched a year ago by the lobby for small employers in need of affordable coverage.

More than 300 small businesses are now covering 4,000-plus workers with annual premiums of about $8 million, reports AWB President Don Brunell. He says the program has worked so well that HealthChoice is now adding dental coverage.

“If someone would have told me that we would have 300 companies in HealthChoice after the first year and we’d be offering dental coverage, I would not have believed them,” says Brunell. “But by pooling AWB members’ purchasing power, HealthChoice has offered small business the same savings and options as larger employers.

HealthChoice participants have a selection of 12 different plans from four carriers. They are Blue Cross, Providence, Virginia Mason and Health First Partners. Washington Dental Services has the new dental plan.

“The key is flexibility and tailoring insurance to individual needs,” says Brunell. “It essentially puts the decision for health and dental insurance in the hands of the people covered, and the employer simply figures out what the company can afford and oversees quality.”

AWB for example has 26 employees and budgets $140 a month each for health and dental insurance. Most of the 12 plans cost under $140. The difference is the employee co-pay.

The average company in the program has 13 workers. Nearly 12 percent of those now insured with AWB did not previously offer employees a plan.

The program is offered through regular insurance agents and brokers.

Panelists named for downtown symposium

A trio of national experts will head a public symposium on downtown rejuvenation July 11 in Spokane at the Met performing arts theater.

The day-long discussion will focus on “Building the Public Agenda for Metropolitan Revitalization.”

The session, sponsored by Eastern Washington University, is a follow-up to last year’s symposium on aesthetics, economics, and architectural aspects of downtown revitalization.

Returning to the stage will be Washington, D.C., consultant and historic preservation authority Donovan Rypkema.

Walter Kulash, an Orlando, Fla., specialist in “living traffic design,” will join Rypkema.

The third panelist will be Charles Royer, former Seattle mayor who now is a graduate school lecturer at the University of Washington.

Discussion topics include:

Downtown housing.

Mixed-use development.

Street design and traffic movement.

Urban growth boundaries.

Role of elected leadership.

Admission is free. The forum runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Union leader appointed to advisory board

John D. Workland of Spokane, Eastern Washington Coordinator of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, Local 8, has been appointed to Gov. Gary Locke’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board. The term runs through the year 2000.

Focus 21 fund raising on target

The Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce reports that funding for Focus 21, the new economic development effort which replaces Momentum, is on target.

Fund raising wrapped up in May with $4.4 million in commitments. Campaign leaders expect approval of major requests still in the works to bring the final tally to well over the $5 million goal.

More than 120 businesses and institutions, including area colleges and universities, pledged money, the chamber reported. The city and the county of Spokane have been asked to contribute a total of $800,000.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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