Brooklyn Chamber Enrolls 1,000th Small Business in Low-Cost Health Plan

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce reports it recently enrolled the 1,000th business into Brooklyn HealthWorks, its low-cost Healthy NY plan for small employers in Brooklyn.

In fact more than 20 businesses have enrolled during the month of January, according to Dean Mohs, vice president of insurance services.

The Chamber also announced plans to expand the program by opening enrollment to sole proprietors and individuals beginning in February.

“As a business organization, the Chamber made the decision to begin offering medical and dental/vision plan options to the ever-growing number of sole proprietors and entrepreneurs calling Brooklyn home,” said Mohs. “We are excited to expand access to this significant component of the Brooklyn business community.”

The 1,000th business, Holstee LLC, is a DUMBO firm that designs, markets and sells recycled clothing and accessories. Co-founder Michael Radparvar said the company was formed at the height of the recession and was not in a position to provide health benefits. But as the economy picked up steam so did Holstee’s business. The company has also hired key employees and is looking to retain them in part by providing health benefits, according to Radparvar.

“Offering Brooklyn HealthWorks to our employees fits into the company’s larger goal of fostering good health and quality of life,” he said. “As a company we focus on wellness and prevention. Health insurance gives us the peace of mind for the unplanned things life throws your way.”

As of Jan. 1, only high deductible plans are available to new Healthy NY and Brooklyn HealthWorks enrollees, according to Mohs. These plans have a $1,200 annual individual deductible and a $2,400 annual deductible for families. Having fewer plan options in 2012 hasn’t seemed to stop businesses from finding and enrolling in Brooklyn HealthWorks.

Brooklyn HealthWorks medical plans are underwritten by Group Health Incorporated (GHI), an EmblemHealth Company, and administered by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the New York State Department of Financial Services. The program's dental/vision plans are underwritten by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

Although the program was formed in 2004, enrollment did not significantly pick up until the state began offering premium support to enrolling businesses in late 2007. The legislative champions who sponsored the enabling legislation making Brooklyn HealthWorks possible for Brooklyn businesses were state Senator Martin Golden and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.

Said Lentol of the milestone, “This is not only a great achievement for the Brooklyn Chamber, but it also shows just how effective and important public/private partnerships can be.”

Commented Golden, “Today, we celebrate the continued success and true meaning of Brooklyn HealthWorks. This program is recreating the climate of small business in Brooklyn and is making Kings County a leader in the state in offering business owners and employees an important opportunity at health care.”