Private business employers have another option to offer health care benefits to employees under a new agreement announced Tuesday.
The Alaska State Chamber joined The Foraker Group, an organization that supports Alaska nonprofits, to offer a health plan that's been available in the nonprofit sector for more than a year.
Many state businesses don't offer health insurance to employees because costs are too high.
Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska offers three plans under the program, two of which are high deductible plans with health savings accounts. Dental and life insurance also are offered.
Businesses are required to pay at least 75 percent of the premiums.
The agreement was announced during the chamber's annual Legislative Fly-In that wraps up today in Juneau. About 60 members were registered to attend.
"This is an important day for our members," chamber President Wayne Stevens said. "All too often, especially for our smaller businesses, health insurance is something they want to offer but the cost puts it out of reach."
The chamber has about 500 members.
Southeast Conference Executive Director Shelly Wright said she considered joining the health plan last year but decided to wait until it had more members, which would bring prices down.
The Foraker Group President Dennis McMillian said the plan is not likely to lower costs right away but could if more people sign up.
About 400 employees of nonprofit organizations use the plan.
Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.