by Sally Poblete, CEO of Wellthie
Making healthcare available to your small business employees can be a daunting prospect. Procuring employee benefits can be costly and confusing to a non-expert in the field. However, it is essential to separate fact from fiction when considering providing your small business employees with the valuable gift of healthcare.
Here are four debunked commonly believed myths about healthcare for small businesses:
My employees have medical issues; I probably can’t even afford to offer health insurance.
For small group health plans, prices vary based on employee age, location, and carrier. The health of your employees is not a determining factor. Small Business fully insured plans are “guaranteed issue,” which means that qualified employees, regardless of health status, can get coverage.
While employee benefits can be pricey, employers do not have to subsidize the entire amount. Depending on the budget, the business owner can determine how much they are willing to contribute. However, most employers contribute anywhere from 50%-100% of the employee only cost. Additionally, there is a wealth of health plan options available for a wide range of budgets.
Employee benefits are too hard to understand.
A study recently found that 4% of Americans couldn’t correctly define the four key health insurance terms necessary for a basic knowledge of healthcare (deductible, copay, coinsurance, out-of-pocket-maximum). Even if you’ve never offered employee benefits before, unfamiliarity with healthcare related language shouldn’t stand in your way from making sure your company is covered.
Resources are available to help demystify insurance for small business owners. Licensed brokers are available in a variety of formats to answer any questions you may have. There is also a multitude of explanatory collateral easily accessible online for free breaking down health insurance terminology and preparing small business owners to purchase health insurance plans for their employees.
I can’t get insurance. I missed the Open Enrollment Period.
Small business owners can make employee benefits available to their employees all year round. For the majority of states, the Open Enrollment Period for 2019 was from November 1st, 2018 to December 15th, 2018, with some states (like the District of Columbia or New York) extending their deadlines to the end of January. However, the Open Enrollment Periods only apply to Individual Plans and Medicare, meaning that it is always a good time to offer health insurance to your employees as you are not bound by the Open Enrollment periods. Most insurance companies offer effective dates on the first or the fifteenth of every month of the year for new benefits.
I shouldn’t have to provide insurance to my employees if it isn’t legally required.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers who have less than 50 employees are not legally required to offer health insurance. Employees with 50 or more full-time employees may face a penalty for not providing coverage. However, even if your small business isn’t bound by law to offer employee health insurance, doing so benefits your employees, their families, as well as your business as a whole. Employees are far more likely to choose and stay with a company if they are satisfied with the health benefits. In a recent AHIP study, 56% of American adults whose employers sponsored their health benefits reported that whether or not they liked their job’s health coverage was a key factor in deciding to stay at their current position, while 46% said health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current position. Furthermore, employees who are insured are consequently more productive while at work.
No small business is too small to offer benefits. Under federal law, a small business must have at least one full-time equivalent employee other than the owner, spouse, or family member to qualify as a small business and obtain health insurance. As long as your company qualifies as a small business under the ACA, you can provide your employees with healthcare.
There’s often confusion surrounding small business health insurance that may prevent a small business owner from taking the crucial steps to make sure their team is covered. Shopping for and purchasing employee benefits has modernized and become easier over time thanks in great part to continuously improving technology. With all of this information and technology at your fingertips, you can feel confident in taking the next steps to provide health insurance to your employees.
Sally Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20 years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, she founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance more simple and approachable for consumers and small businesses. She had a successful career leading product development at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.