Efforts to repeal, replace, or repeal and replace Obamacare are undergoing such a roller coaster of ups and downs that only one thing is certain: Congressional representatives can't agree on what to do. Your employees, however, do agree about healthcare coverage: They’re in favor of it.
No matter how the healthcare insurance battle shakes out on Capitol Hill, multiple surveys have shown that health insurance is the number-one benefit employees of all ages want their employers to provide. In a study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 87 percent of workers say employment-based health insurance is either very or extremely important when considering whether to leave their job and take a new position.
Is there a way your business can help employees get the healthcare coverage they want that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Finding affordable health insurance is challenging, but it is possible. Here are five tips to help.
- Find out what kind of coverage your employees care about most. You can save money and make your employees happier by tailoring the plan to your employees’ needs. Ask them upfront what benefits they care about. Would they rather have lower co-pays and higher deductibles? How much do prescription drug benefits matter? Do they have access to alternative coverage through their spouses' health insurance? The type of coverage that single employees in their 20s want will be different than what 45-year-old married parents want.
- Work with an insurance agent specializing in small business. The health insurance market has gotten more complex in recent years, and it's not going to get any simpler any time soon. Ask around to find an agent who knows the special needs and concerns of small business owners, can give you quotes from a variety of insurance providers, and can explain the ins and outs of the plans.
- Decide how much of employee premiums you’ll cover. In many states, your business is required to pay at least 50 percent of employees’ health insurance premiums. However, you can save money by covering this cost for employees only, not for their spouses and dependents.
- Look into offering a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). These plans allow employees to save pretax money for medical expenses, which helps lower out-of-pocket costs. A couple of important differences: A FSA has a "use it or lose it" provision; money still in the account at the end of the year doesn't roll over. Money in an HSA does roll over; however, to offer an HAS, you must also offer a qualifying High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
- Consider using a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). A PEO acts as “co-employer” of your employees and manages HR, benefits, regulatory compliance and payroll for you. In addition to taking these headaches off your hands, working with a PEO can also give your employees access to lower-cost health insurance than you could afford as a small business.
Choosing health insurance for your employees takes some time and effort, but will pay off in a more loyal, happier and healthier work force.