Here are the frightening facts: the past three years have seen double-digit increases in group health insurance premiums and these increases were largest for the smallest companies. All indications are that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
As a business owner, if you think this is good cause to panic, you’re not alone. The rising cost of providing health insurance for employees is regularly cited as the number one concern of smaller companies today. Employers know how highly their workers value medical coverage, but many feel that they’ve been pushed to the wall and are now facing a fatal dilemma: pass the crippling rate hikes on to their employees, or cut benefits entirely.
The truth is that you don’t have to settle for one of two equally bad choices. If you currently have a health plan that’s straining your budget or have no health plan but would like to offer one for your employees, here are three tips to help you find a quality group health insurance plan at a reasonable rate:
Compare quotes and benefits from multiple insurance companies.
You wouldn’t buy a car without first familiarizing yourself with the different makes and models available. Similarly, when shopping for group health coverage, don’t limit yourself to the offerings of a single insurance company. The most convenient way to get an overview of the insurance options in your area is by working with an online agent. A licensed group health insurance agent can provide you with the benefits and rates from a large number of insurance companies and plans. With more to choose from, an agent will help you match your business to the best plan and save you money by making sure you’re not paying for “extras” that you and your employees don’t need. Make sure that any agent you work with, on or offline, is licensed in your state.
Consider a high-deductible plan.
Another way to save is by opting for a high-deductible plan. If your employees are healthy and don’t make frequent visits to the doctor, this may be a good option for you. You can save money and still retain valuable coverage for your employees through a high-deductible plan. Though they will face deductibles before coverage kicks in, your employees will be protected from the catastrophic consequences of having no coverage in the event of serious illness or injury. Your licensed agent can provide you with information on high-deductible plans in your area and help you determine if such a plan makes sense for your business.
Take advantage of available tax incentives.
Educate yourself on the tax benefits available to you as a business owner when you provide group health insurance for your employees. You may be able to fully deduct the premiums paid on your group health plan, and offering coverage as part of a total compensation package may reduce your payroll tax. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) provide another important tax break for you and your employees. These tax-favored accounts can be used in conjunction with certain high-deductible plans and your contributions to them are exempt from payroll tax. Talk to your agent about HSAs and HSA-eligible plans. All these incentives contribute to the affordability of your group health insurance plan.