The Prince George's County Council voted yesterday to study the feasibility of creating an organization to offer low-cost group insurance to those who have difficulty obtaining hospitalization coverage.
The council said the service would be aimed at small businesses that could pass on the lower rates to employes, as well as at persons who are without hospitalization insurance or are paying "extraordinarily high" fees for coverage.
Council Chairman William Amonett, who sponsored the measure with member Frank Casula, said the county government would probably not offer the insurance itself, but could act as a catalyst in establishing a private-sector association that could provide low-cost group rates to those who join it for a nominal fee.
"I think it has great potential to really alter the way health care is delivered," Amonett said. "If it works here, this is something you'd see take off like gang busters across the United States."
The council's unanimous vote instructed County Executive Parris Glendening to study such a system. The resolution suggested that one means of creating such a program would be to organize a trade association offering group rates to individuals or small businesses, which could join for a lifetime fee of $1. Glendening has not taken a position on the proposal, his staff said.
The Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce is studying the proposal and is looking at whether the chamber could organize the effort. Robert Zinsmeister, director of governmental affairs for the chamber, said similar plans are in place across the country, including some organized by local chambers.
In other action, the council, on a preliminary vote, approved an $8.8 million supplemental appropriation for the first year of the county's magnet school plan, implemented last fall for desegregation purposes.