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Healing Hands

How some states are easing the health-insurance burden

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This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Providing employees with health coverage is a struggle for Carrie Howard, co-owner of DJ's Industrial Rubber Products, a six-employee Oklahoma City company that sells fire-hose fittings. Even with 2005 sales at $1 million, the company can't afford to cover its employees. Howard says, "If they could have a $20 co-pay, or any help with prescriptions, they would do it."

Howard, 42, and the company's employees could get help very soon from the state government. In November, Oklahoma started Oklahoma Employer/Employee Partnership for Insurance Coverage, a voter-approved statewide health insurance program for companies with fewer than 25 employees. Funded largely through a tobacco tax increase, the state picks up 60 percent of an employee's premium, the employer pays 25 percent, and the employee pays the remaining 15 percent.

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