At the same time that these shoppers are buying large sized containers of coffee, they may also shop for coverage.
Small businesses are now beginning to make the decisions that are required of them in order to be able to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which states that employers must offer health insurance to their workers, and now Sam’s Club is going to enter into the market that sells this coverage.
The Wal-Mart Stores wholesale retailer division has announced that it will start selling private plans.
It will be offering its own private health insurance exchange that is directed specifically toward owners of small businesses and their employees. This marketplace is being established by Sam’s Club through a partnership that it has formed with Aetna. Another similar retailer and a very large rival to Sam’s Club, Costco Wholesale made an announcement earlier this year that it would be rolling out its own private marketplace for individuals who are shopping for their coverage.
The health insurance exchange at Sam’s Club is different, however, as it focuses on coverage for entrepreneurs.
Businesses are the primary demographic of shoppers at Sam’s Club and they have opted to provide a marketplace for insurance plans for exactly those members. The concept is that business owners who are already comfortable shopping at this retailer will also feel confident choosing Sam’s Club in order to be able to comply with the requirements of the health care reform law. The idea is that they may be more comfortable with the store than using state or federal exchanges.
So far, the insurance policies will be available in stores in 18 different states. Businesses that employ two or more people will be able to access Aetna resources and tools. They will be able to either choose a plan that provides employees with a flat, pre-tax contribution to the policy of the employee’s choice, or the companies can select a defined contribution plan in which the worker must participate.
The health insurance requirements of the Affordable Care Act state that employers with 100 or more full time workers must start covering them as of 2015, and businesses with 50 to 99 workers will need to do so beginning in 2016.