Insure Oklahoma companies steel themselves for program’s demise

Key health care reform mandates loom Jan. 1; threaten the end to state’s premium assistance program for low-income employees of small companies.

By Paula Burkes | Published: March 4, 2013

CHICKASHA — At 92 employees, Cimarron Trailers falls among the ranks of U.S. employers — those with 50 or more full time equivalent workers who, starting Jan. 1, must provide health insurance to its employees or face steep annual penalties under health care reform.

Cimarron, which makes custom aluminum stock trailers in Chickasha that are sold nationwide, has offered group health insurance since it opened February 2004. The problem: since 2009, some 42 percent of its eligible workers take advantage of slashed monthly insurance payments under Insure Oklahoma — a 7-year-old, state-run income- and family size-based premium assistance program for qualifying individuals and employees of businesses with 99 or fewer workers.

Insure Oklahoma may die in December, paradoxically, because of health reform.

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