October 30, 2014

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Don’t let health insurance fears deter entrepreneurship

Sept. 30, 2010

By Rachel Carter

When I set out to start my own business in Vermont, the number one roadblock for me was health insurance. What happens if I get sick? How can I afford such high prices through an association such as a Chamber of Commerce when I can barely make ends meet as it is? There are so many fears associated with starting a business, but I wanted to do it so badly I was prepared to overlook my health for the time being because I felt so strongly (and still do!) that creating my own path and manifesting my own future was only possible by taking control of my career by starting a business.

The fear of health insurance was soon thwarted when another small business owner told me about Green Mountain Care. I had heard of it and didn’t think it would apply to me; I hadn’t lost my job — I left to start my own company. But that is not the case with Green Mountain Care — eligibility is much broader than I thought and I now want to help let others know that they should explore opportunities themselves instead of just believing the first thing they hear.

Green Mountain Care is a family of health care plans for uninsured Vermonters. Eligibility and application details are online at www.GreenMountainCare.org.

I quickly began the application process and, while it took some time because I was self-employed, it was very useful in actually getting my finances organized. The process also led me to set up a Quickbooks program for my business, which has been one of the best investments I could have made. I learned I was eligible for the Vermont Health Access Plan — one of the Green Mountain Care plans — and was also able to keep my same primary care physician from when I was employed.

The monthly premium to start was free and as my business started to grow, my premium went up, but was still something I could make work in my budget. As my business grew and my tax returns showed my income levels rising, I was no longer eligible for the Vermont Health Access Plan. But instead of getting kicked off for making a living as I feared, I was shifted into Catamount Health, with Premium Assistance, which I chose to have administered through Blue Cross Blue Shield — all while keeping my same primary care physician and still with costs that I can work into my budget.

I often hear other budding entrepreneurs say the main reason they don’t want to go out on their own is the fear of not having health insurance, and I tell them what someone told me when I was getting started: check out Green Mountain Care, which includes Catamount Health, Vermont Health Access Plan, Dr. Dynasaur, Medicaid and premium assistance for either Catamount Health or Employer-Sponsored Insurance.

And to those who want to say Green Mountain Care is simply a state program for freeloaders — there are a lot of hardworking 20- and 30-somethings trying to make an honest living here in Vermont. And since there is growing concern over the high number of younger professionals moving out of state for better work opportunities, what is wrong with the state of Vermont offering help to the very people who are needed to make Vermont a more viable economic community? Not to mention that as a group, entrepreneurs pay in more than they pay out.

And as for peace of mind — I am glad I have insurance for when I really need it.

Rachel Carter owns Rachel Carter PR, a public relations, social media and grassroots marketing firm located in Charlotte and at www.RachelCarterPR.com.

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