The Knox County Chamber of Commerce is looking to once again offer insurance to the pool of small and mid-size business owners struggling to offer their employees benefits.

Chamber president Jamie Neal said the Chamber has partnered with Benefits 7 and Colonial Insurance to begin providing local business owners an opportunity to secure dental, vision, disability and life insurance for their employees.

But that’s just Phase I of a larger effort, she said.

By the end of the year, they hope to begin offering a health insurance option as well, this time in cooperation with SIHO and Good Samaritan.

Business owners must be members of the Chamber to get in on the deal, Neal said, but the cost is “affordable.”

“We hope to begin rolling out more specific information on Phase II before the first of the year,” said Neal. “There will be more details coming.”

Small and even mid-size business owners have long struggled with their ability to afford insurance for their small pool of employees. The fewer the employees, the greater the cost of benefits.

As such, Chambers across the state have stepped up to help, creating a much larger pool of employees from a variety of businesses, all Chamber members, thereby reducing the cost to the employer.

“We know, especially right now, that it’s tough for these business owners to offer health insurance based on the cost,” Neal said. “So in order for them to be able to retain employees, or even attract new ones, we know they have to offer these kinds of benefits.

“So we’re trying to help them do that.”

Neal said she began working on this deal during the pandemic, bringing back a program the Chamber had years ago in partnership with United Insurance.

She modeled this particular deal after one struck in Jeffersonville, she said.

“Chambers across the state are developing programs like this because we know the needs of our business owners,” she said.

Once the health insurance option is in place, she said, insurance providers will be able to meet with Chamber members to walk them through the process.

And as for Phase I, Neal said she’s seen “pretty good response” from interested business owners, and she expects more to come forward once Phase II is rolled out and a new year begins.

“We know what they’re primarily looking for is health insurance,” she said. “But we’ve had a ton of people reach out already.

“This first year will probably be slow, but as we roll into the second year, we expect interest to grow. Right now, we’re looking to help those with nothing; we don’t expect people to switch providers if they have coverage.

“So we see that growth really happening in 2023.”

For more information, contact the Chamber at 812-882-8660.

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