Chambers team up on new benefits package

Members of many of New Hampshire’s chambers of commerce will soon be able to offer a new all-inclusive benefits package to their employees.

The New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Executives, an organization representing more than 30 chambers, has worked with Patriot Healthcare, Northeast Delta Dental, Genworth Financial and third-party administrators CBA/EBPA in creating “Signature Plus,” a consolidated benefits package.

The package includes health savings and reimbursement accounts from Patriot, dental insurance from Northeast Delta Dental, life, short- and long-term disability insurance and dental insurance from Genworth Financial, with administration of the program by CBA/EBPA.

It is geared toward businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Eligible employees may reside outside of New Hampshire, but must work within the state.

“This is a project we have been working on for some time,” said Theresa Pinto Lamson, chair of NHACCE and president of the Greater Laconia-Weirs Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted to give our members the ability to do one-stop-shopping for their employee benefits, and this approach has successfully combined a number of cost-saving strategies that result in a very competitive offering.”

Linda Bonetti, executive director of the Merrimack Area Chamber of Commerce, said it was important to understand that the chambers themselves will not be the ones selling or administering the program, distinguishing it from an association health plan, or AHP.

“This is just another benefit that we can add for our members. It will be sold by broker members to chamber members,” she said.

Bonetti said broker training on the package is anticipated to begin in September, with availability possible in early 2007.

“This Patriot package is so new we don’t have dollar value yet,” said Bonetti. “There will be a time savings, though, because of the third-party administration. Time savings will also come from the fact that there will a single card and a single application.”

Lamson said that while the program was “not a silver bullet,” it was “a good effort that provides savings, choice and flexibility for both employer and employee.” — CINDY KIBBE

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