HEALTH CARE UPDATE
The skyrocketing cost of health care for small businesses is an issue many of our members are concerned about. Many small businesses want to provide health insurance for their employees but are discouraged or prevented from doing so because of the ever-increasing prices.
This Session, Representative Frank Farkas (R- St. Petersburg) and Senator Jim King (R-Jacksonville) took the lead in trying to help small businesses with this problem. In the March edition of this newsletter, we told you about their legislation which would give small employers who have been unable to afford health insurance for their employees another option. Their idea was to make health insurance policies issued for small businesses more flexible (and hopefully more affordable) by allowing varying levels of co-pays and deductibles. By increasing the co-pays made by the employee or increasing the deductibles which have to be met, the policies should be less expensive for small businesses and their employees.
This concept is contained in Senate Bill 46E, sponsored by Senator Burt Saunders (R-Naples), passed during the recent Special Session of the Legislature. The bill, which will become effective October 1, 2002, states that laws restricting or limiting deductibles, co-insurance, co-payments, or lifetime maximum benefits do not apply to policies offered to small employers. The bill also creates the Health Flex Plan Pilot Project, which creates pilot projects in 3 of the highest uninsured areas of the state and in Indian River County. Uninsured persons in these areas who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level will be eligible to purchase Health Flex Plans that will provide basic health insurance but will not have to cover certain items currently mandated by law.
Volume XII, No. 6
While these two concepts will certainly not magically make health insurance more affordable for
all small businesses, hopefully this new law is a start in the right direction.
If you have any questions about this new law on health insurance, please call the FUBA offices and ask for Karen or Lance.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION EXEMPTIONS CHANGE ON JULY 1, 2002
In April’s edition of the newsletter, we told you about Senate Bill 108, which radically changed how construction exemptions from workers’ compensation are handled in Florida. The Governor has signed this bill, and it will take effect July 1, 2002. Effective on that date, construction exemptions will no longer be valid on any “commercial building project” valued at $250,000 or greater. A “commercial building project” is defined in the law as any building or structure intended for commercial or industrial use, including any building or structure intended for multifamily use of more than 4 dwelling units. It does not include a project that is converting an existing residential building to a commercial building. This means all condominium and apartment building projects of more than 4 units will be considered “commercial.” Also, the $250,000 is the value of the total project, not just one subcontractor’s portion of the project.
Contractors working on residential projects will still be allowed to have their current exemptions. The law is not changing for contractors who only perform residential work.
Please make sure you are aware of how this new law will affect you and your construction