Five years ago, Andrea Keating crafted a self-insured company health plan. The idea was to pay for out-of-pocket expenses on such costly items as a child's braces. As it happens, all six of the employees at $5.5-million Crews Control--her Silver Spring, Md., provider of video teams to corporations--are women who already had health-insurance coverage, mostly through their spouses' plans. "I put this in place so that we could enhance everyone's existing coverage, not duplicate it," says Keating.

Her plan could work for any company that can't afford to provide comprehensive health coverage. The stipulations: only full-time employees are eligible, and only after they've been at the company a year. There's a monthly cap of $500 per worker that can be applied to anything approved by the plan administrator--Keating herself. Employees without any insurance must take out their own policies, but once they do, "we pay the premium out of this allowance," she says.

The supplementary coverage has been a real boost for staffers like Christy Rivers-Willie, a production manager who joined the company nearly three years ago. Crews Control's plan paid the monthly premium on Rivers-Willie's policy until she married, last June, and went on her husband's insurance. Crews Control now pays for her dental and eye exams, contact lenses, and deductibles on prescription drugs. "Now everything is covered," she says. "I have no out-of-pocket expenses at all."

Not only is this plan affordable, it has helped the CEO as much as the employees. The supplementary insurance helps pay for physical therapy for Keating's daughter, who suffers from spina bifida. The extra coverage--plus the benefit of running her business from home for the first nine years--has certainly been a godsend.