Bouma updates CofC on insurance changes

17_7897WINNING PRIZE  — Darlene Denzer, who recently passed away, had this entry in the Conrad Garden Club’s annual flower show, themed, Our Window on the World. Titled ‘Windows to the Future’ Denzer won the designers’ choice award and a first place ribbon.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

Howard Bouma of Northern Montana Insurance Services, Conrad, was the featured speaker at the monthly Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at the Coaches Corner.

Before Bouma took the floor, Conrad Mayor John Shevlin gave a quick report on the city.

He touched on the recent vandalism case in the bathroom at the ball fields and asked people to, “Keep your eyes open and if you see anything suspicious, contact the police department.”

The mayor said that the waste water treatment plant has been on line for a little over a month and is doing well.

The new street patching machine is in and is working well.

He was asked about fallen trees and limbs. The mayor noted that they are the responsibility of the home owner, but the city will assist in removing them.

Rob Cook the plant manager at ITB introduced Richard Hogan, a new employee.

It was announced that the Transportation and Historical Museum will be open on Wednesday evenings now from 7-9 p.m.

For more information contact the museum at 278-0178.

Changes in health insurance seem to be coming down the line at the speed of light.

Through Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the Montana Chamber of Commerce developed a health insurance policy that small CofCs, such as Conrad, can take advantage of.

It began in 2004 and today covers over 1,500 businesses and 16,000 people.

“There are 11 different health  plans with lots of options and advantages,” Bouma noted, such as annual echo exams and $1,000 towards colonostromy. A small business has to be a member of the CofC to take advantage of this.

He also talked about the Healthy Montana Kids plan (HMK).

The HMK plan offers low-cost or free health coverage for children up to age 19.

There may be a small-co-payment for some families, however, no family pays more than $215 a year in co-payments.

There are no co-payments for checkups, immunizations, dental visits or eyeglasses and there are no monthly premiums or deductibles.

Another program he touched on was the Insure Montana Program which got going in 2005 as an initiative of (then) Insurance Commissioner John Morrison.

It is a two-part program designed to make health insurance affordable to small businesses with 2-9 employees.

Small businesses that are currently unable to afford group health insurance for their employees can apply for coverage through the Montana Purchasing Pool.

And new for 2010 are tax credits of employers who provide health insurance coverage. The biggest credits go to those with fewer than 10 full-time employees paying an annual wage of $25,000 or less.

For further information on these and other health insurance programs, contact Bouma at Northern Montana Insurance Services, 21 4th Ave. SW, across the street from the courthouse or call him at 278-3263.

In case you hadn’t heard by now, Letha Ashworth has left the CofC to work for Dr. John Taylor.

The CofC is currently looking for a replacement. If interested, contact the office at 271-7791.

The next regular meeting of the CofC will be on Sept. 8 at noon in the Lobby. Lisa Schmidt is the scheduled speaker.