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Healing Hands

How some states are easing the health-insurance burden

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

Howard, 42, and the company's employees could get help verysoon from the state government. In November, Oklahoma startedOklahoma Employer/Employee Partnership for Insurance Coverage, avoter-approved statewide health insurance program for companieswith fewer than 25 employees. Funded largely through a tobacco taxincrease, the state picks up 60 percent of an employee'spremium, the employer pays 25 percent, and the employee pays theremaining 15 percent.

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