With $20 million in state funding, ICARE was supposed to have a significant impact on small business owners struggling to provide health insurance to their employees.
Instead, Gov. Ernie Fletcher's initiative, short for the Insurance Coverage, Affordability and Relief to small Employers program, is having a hard time finding participants months after its inception in January.
Julie Mix McPeak, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance, which supervises the program, thinks she knows why.
For one, ICARE has its restrictions. To be eligible, businesses must employee two to 25 employees, pay at least 50 percent of the employee's premium for single coverage, be located in Kentucky with at least one Kentucky employee, and pay employees a gross salary of no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
ICARE was given enough funding by the 2006 General Assembly to help 4,000 employers and 20,000 employees.
As of April 5, the program had received 166 applications, and approved 82 - none from Boyle County.