The National Federation of Independent Business, for years a strong advocate or lower taxes and fewer regulations, is getting into something new--health insurance.

With full implementation of Obamacare rapidly approaching, the small-business lobby just launched a new program designed to give its 350,000-plus members access to a wide range of personal health-insurance options. “Health care is the number-one pain point for our small-business members,” says NFIB spokesperson Nicole Devine. “With ongoing mandates and reform, it’s a confusing time, and they are worrying about their coverage and how it’s going to change.”

The NFIB’s program won’t do much to salve the anxieties of large employers facing down the health-care law’s employer mandate, which requires companies with more than 50 employers to provide coverage or face penalties. Instead, the association aims to make it easier for smaller employers who purchase personal or family coverage on the individual market.

Prices through the NFIB program--offered in partnership with UnitedHealthOne Agency, an affiliate of United Healthcare--are expected to be competitive with those in Obamacare’s state-based exchanges, which are supposed to be up and running by October. But the program’s key biggest selling point, says Devine, will be choice. UnitedHealthcare's network includes more than 720,000 doctors and 5,622 hospitals, and NFIB members will have a wide range of plan options, including co-pay plans that are similar to traditional employer-sponsored coverage, lower-cost high deductible plans, and health savings account (HSA) plans that can help them save on their health insurance and their taxes. They will also have access to dental, vision, critical illness, and disability insurance.

Worth checking out, for sure. But remember, this is only about coverage for you, not your whole company. And unlike on the state exchanges, coverage through the NFIB will not be guaranteed. Rather, all applicants will have to go through individual underwriting--and face the possibility that their applications could be denied outright. 

You can find more information about the program here: