Health insurance costs are a constant concern for small business owners. A survey recently conducted by eHealthInsurance.com showed that fewer than one-fifth of small business owners are optimistic about finding better benefits when shopping for health insurance this year. But those entrepreneurs may not be aware of benefits from the new health insurance legislation that could help them save money.
“Every day I talk to small businesses owners who are missing out on health care reform benefits and are completely unaware of it,” says Anthony Lopez, a licensed small business health insurance agent for eHealthInsurance.com. “Taking the time to review your current plan and available options can help cut costs and ensure employees are getting the benefits that matter most to them.” In this guest post, Lopez shares 5 tips entrepreneurs can use to get the most from health insurance without breaking the bank.
- Take advantage of new reforms: In addition to new tax breaks, health reform also provides new benefits like free preventive care screenings and no lifetime limits on your health coverage. But, employers who bought health insurance before health reform passed in March 2010 have “grandfathered,” plans that don’t provide these additional benefits. These new benefits may not save you any money on premiums, but they haven’t really increased prices on the small group side either. And, if your employees take advantage of free screenings, you may save money in the long run by preventing long-term absences due to illness. Plus, you won’t have to worry about one employee’s unforeseen illness maxing out the coverage on your group plan.
- “Right-size” your benefits: Talk to your employees about the benefits they really need and want. Make sure you’re giving them the benefits they need, and are willing to pay for. It’s illegal to ask employees to provide specific information about their health history or what kinds of benefits they use most. But, you can find out if they’re interested in benefits like chiropractic care or dental insurance (benefits they could pay for on their own). You may also create an anonymous survey to find out what benefits they value most, or if they’d prefer higher monthly premiums with low deductibles, or vice-versa. You may also try to determine their comfort level with products like Health Savings Accounts.
- Investigate creative financing options: Employers with employees who may want richer benefits should discuss the option of premium sharing. According to experts at eHealthInsurance, many small employers are unaware that they can allow employees to share the cost of monthly premiums.
- Try new products: More small business owners are exploring plans that offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flex-Spending Accounts (FSAs). But, many employees fear the higher deductibles. However, it’s becoming increasingly easy for employers to contribute to an employee’s HSA account and eliminate that fear of a high deductible.
- Explore different insurers: It can be tempting for small business owners to shop once for a plan and move on to other things. And many experts say some small business owners “fall in love” with one insurer because they assume their favorite doctor or hospital only accepts the plan they have. But experts say it’s a good idea to re-shop for coverage at least every two years to be sure you’re still getting the best deal. In many cases doctors and hospitals will accept more than one insurance carrier, and it’s easy to find out for sure.