A Starter Guide to Small Business Health Benefits

Need help navigating employee health benefits?

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Our partners at Oscar + Cigna offer a crash course on everything you need to know about plans and benefits when choosing a plan for your employees

It’s a big commitment to pay for and administer health benefits for your employees. But as a small business, offering group health insurance is one of the biggest advantages you have for attracting talent, employee productivity, and retention — especially in challenging times.

Navigating employee health benefits can be overwhelming. Our Starter Guide to Small Business Health Benefits offers a crash course on everything you need to know about plans and benefits when choosing a plan for your employees. Save it now for easy access, and keep reading for more.

5 reasons to offer health benefits to your employees:

  1. It’s what employees want. Health insurance is the #1 requested benefit by employees.
  2. It’s a smart tax move. Premium contributions are pre-tax, and companies with over 50 full-time employees have to pay a tax penalty for not providing health benefits.
  3. It gives you a competitive advantage in hiring. If employees are choosing between gigs, they’re more likely to join your company over another that doesn’t offer health benefits.
  4. It minimizes sick days. Illness-related lost productivity costs employers $530 billion per year.
  5. It helps with retention. Employees are less likely to leave if they have great benefits.

What employees want in a health plan


18% of employees say that more personalized health care plans are an area for improvement. Consumers regularly receive personalized shopping and media recommendations, and they now expect the same kind of personalization in their health care experience. They want to be heard, understood, and given clear, personalized directions on what to do.


18% of employees are dissatisfied with an employer-sponsored plan that is too confusing. Many employees want simple, clearly explained plan information so they can make informed choices about how to use their plan.

Comprehensive coverage

39% of Americans that receive health care through their workplace site comprehensive coverage as the main factor driving their satisfaction in their current health plan. Employees want to ensure that the benefits, care, and treatment that are important to their health needs are covered.

39% of Americans that receive health care through their workplace site comprehensive coverage as the main factor driving their satisfaction in their current health plan.


26% of people on employer-sponsored plans are looking for online tools and apps to provide information about their insurance options. Employees want to be in control of their health care.


57% of employers plan to focus on mental and behavioral health over the next three years. Employees want coverage and resources for both body and mind.

Health insurance plan basics

Before you can make smart decisions about which insurance plans to offer, it’s important to understand a few basic elements. These have the potential to impact value and costs for you and your employees.

  • Cost components: Insurance plans are built around a few different types of costs that directly impact health care spending for your business and employees.
  • Deductible: A deductible is the amount an employee will spend on covered services before their plan starts paying for care.
  • Premium: A premium is the monthly payment required to have an active health plan. It can be paid fully by an employee, by an employee and your business, or fully by your business.
  • Copay: A fixed dollar amount an employee will spend on covered service at each time they seek a service—such as a visit to an urgent care center or filling a prescription.
  • Out-of-pocket: Out-of-pocket expenses include any money an employee pays toward covered health care expenses, including copays and coinsurance
  • Out-of-pocket max: An out-of-pocket max is the maximum amount an employee will pay for health care during the year. After they meet this amount, their plan will pay for all covered medical expenses.

Health plan types

There are several different types of health plans to get familiar with. All health plans will give employees access to a health network. A network is the group of doctors, medical groups, and labs members have access to as part of their insurance plan. Plans are designed to balance care access to networks and cost. Here are the four main types of health plans.

Read the rest of the article on Cigna + Oscar’s blog.

Note: This article was originally published on cignaoscar.com. Zenefits has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the reliability, quality, or accuracy, of this content.

Cigna + Oscar coverage is insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company.
CA: benefits administered by Oscar Health Administrators. Other states: benefits administered by Mulberry Management Corporation. Pharmacy benefits provided by Express Scripts, Inc. Cigna + Oscar health insurance contains exclusions and limitations. For complete details on product availability and coverage, please refer to your plan documents or contact a representative.

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