Offering healthcare enables small businesses to stay competitive in the job market while complying with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. However, with so many healthcare options available, choosing the best coverage plan for your company can be difficult.
Whether you buy insurance from a state-run healthcare exchange like HealthCare.gov, other state-level healthcare exchanges or from the private market, searching for the right plan can be a pain.
Before you start shopping, alleviate that pain with the following steps to ensure you find the best healthcare option for your small business.
Assess Insurance Premiums
Comparing insurance premiums is a crucial part of finding the right level of healthcare coverage for your business. If you go through one of the state-run exchanges, comparing plans can be as easy as just a few clicks and keystrokes.
HealthCare.gov and other state-run exchanges feature the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), where businesses can sort through multiple qualified insurance providers and plans.
In general, businesses can choose from bronze, silver, gold and platinum healthcare plans, each with varying prices, deductibles and coverage levels.
While bronze and silver plans may seem more attractive because of the lower premiums, these options can end up costing your business more in the long-term, including higher out-of-pocket costs and/or higher deductibles.
Opting for a higher-level plan, where the provider covers more of your costs, can protect you and your employees in the event of serious illness. Additionally, higher-premium plans help ensure workers don’t hesitate to seek the treatment they need to stay healthy and productive throughout the year.
The state-run healthcare exchanges also allow businesses to compare different prices for different premium options based on the number of employees they plan to cover. As of 2015, in some states, SHOP will offer businesses the option of providing more than one plan to its employees.
Choose Whom to Cover
Opting to provide health insurance is not as simple as choosing an insurance carrier. Businesses must also decide which employees to cover under the plan.
If you are not required to insure all workers under the Affordable Care Act, you can save money by choosing to cover only full-time staff. Additionally, some businesses require workers to be employed for a certain period of time before qualifying for healthcare. Finally, companies must determine whether or not to cover spouses, domestic partners and family members of employees.
If you do decide to purchase plans through a state healthcare exchange, be aware that some states mandate a minimum participation rate before you can take advantage of SHOP-provided plans.
Determine What to Cover
Many businesses recognize that offering health coverage helps them retain current employees while drawing new talent to the company. However, you also need to know which benefits are most important to your workers. Some workers might look for a great vision plan, while others might opt for better dental coverage.
Before choosing a healthcare option, take the time to survey employees about the desirability of benefits like vision, dental care and maternity. For example, you might be wasting money on paying for a subpar dental plan when that money could be spent buying a better medical plan. At the end of the day, your business should offer a plan that its employees will actually use.
Resources for Comparing Healthcare Plans
Choosing the right health provider is not just about assessing price. Browsing different sites can help companies assess different options based on factors such as quality of care and subscriber satisfaction. Additionally, you can learn what doctors and hospitals are in a plan before opting in.
Find the Right Healthcare Option for Your Company
Providing healthcare is a great way to attract top talent to your business while ensuring your current employees remain healthy and happy. Take the time to research all your options before selecting the best possible healthcare plan for your company.