Sharon Opfermann owns and operates Camp Bow Wow, a doggy day care and overnight boarding facility based in South Salt Lake. Prior to starting Camp Bow Wow, Sharon worked in human resources for a few large companies. Because of that experience, she was very familiar with the working of the insurance industry and knew that she and her husband would be deemed uninsurable in the individual market. Faced with the choice of going without insurance, and because she wanted to be a responsible employer, Sharon decided to shop for a small group plan.
Sharon was interested in the Utah Health Exchange (UHE), so she went to the UHE training and decided to enroll herself and her four employees. Since Sharon is unable to pay her employees high wages, she picked a default plan with comprehensive benefits, and then walked each of her employees through the additional plan choices. She also helped her employees apply for the Utah Premium Partnership (UPP), which helps pay their portion of the premium.
Sharon has been very happy with her experience using the UHE and reports that the staff was responsive and very helpful. She knows from experience that the premium subsidies are a critical piece to the success of the exchange for small businesses. She would like to see the UHE allow small businesses to share risk with one another to even the playing field with larger companies in terms of costs per enrollee. Sharon also feels that linking the UHE with public programs will be good for employees and that it will be critical to open the UHE to individuals. “As far as I can see, the UHE is showing that they can manage and administer the insurance portal. Insurance is insurance, so opening up the individual market and linking to public programs is a natural next step.”