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Meritus Offers Exclusive Healthcare Lifeline to Small Businesses

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UPDATE ON UNEMPLOYMENT Despite adding over 17,000 private sector jobs in Arizona in March, the state's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3 percent for the month. "It's not really a true reflection of what the true unemployment rate looks like. What we're finding is as there's been some growth, there's an equal amount of people that just can't find that right opportunity. There's a lot of people still looking for work." -- Ryan Naylor, LocalWork.com Meanwhile more than a dozen Arizona companies and hospitals are hiring 100 or more employees this month. Among companies seeking 100 or more in April are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Verizon Wireless and Aetna. ONLINE REVIEWS DICTATING YOUR GROWTH According to the latest research, more customers than ever are consulting online reviews as a first step before deciding what products and services to buy, and what local businesses to buy from. Those who say they use online reviews at least occasionally has jumped from 70 percent to 85 percent in just 2 years. MERITUS TO EXCLUSIVELY OFFER HEALTHCARE SIGNUP OUTSIDE OF ENROLLMENT PERIOD People who didn't try to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by March 31 may now have to wait until October to buy a health plan -- even outside the new ACA marketplaces. It's an economic decision for health insurers. To stay viable, they need to attract young, healthy people who don't require expensive care. If health plans leave the door open year-round, they're likely to attract people who are very sick, newly diagnosed and in need of immediate care. However, Meritus, a Tempe, Arizona-based nonprofit health insurer, said it intends to sell coverage outside of open enrollment. Meritus is the ONLY health plan in Arizona to offer plans outside the enrollment period. For more information on Meritus Health Plans go to ASBA.com SBA HONORS SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPIONS AT ASBA'S SMALL BIZ CONFERENCE In celebration of Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration is honoring Arizona entrepreneurs and small business champions for their contributions to the economy. The awards will be presented during the Arizona Small Business Association's (ASBA) annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, May 7 at the Scottsdale Princess Resort and Conference Center. For more, visit asba.com.