Small businesses struggle with offering health insurance, and it’s not surprising why.
Healthcare costs are rising faster (4-5%) than wages (3.4%) and inflation (2%), and changes to things like the Affordable Care Act rules and reporting deadlines, are creating generalized confusion and indecipherability.
Small business owners lack confidence knowing whether or not they can actually afford to provide health coverage to employees and, ultimately, many choose not to.
It’s no wonder that only 47% of businesses with fewer than 200 employees offer group insurance, and the rate of small businesses that offer insurance is declining year over year (see figure above, source).
Nevertheless, healthcare remains top of mind for small business owners who understand health insurance is the No. 1 perk job seekers want, as they figure out ways to vie for top talent.
To help businesses navigate health insurance choices (including costs, plan options, and value) we’ve pulled together a few actionable steps to improve decision making.
3 steps to take to get the most out of your healthcare plans
- Ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck
- Ensure staff have easy, intuitive access to your programs to boost benefits uptake and employee wellbeing
- Champion your programs both internally and externally
The first step to getting the most bang for your buck is researching and vetting the specific aspects of health insurance that cost money, and that you can control. This helps slim down your overall costs without compromising your benefits.
To do this, study benefits benchmark costs, learn which questions to ask your brokers or carriers to ensure your plans match your objectives and discover new ways to offer health insurance that might save you money.
There are many ways to do this research, but one of the best resources is the Small Business Guide to Health Insurance, which synthesizes benchmark data from three industry expert surveys and customer data pulls (one from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an American non-profit organization that focuses on major healthcare issues; one from Sequoia, a leading insurance broker; and one from Zenefits an HR platform).
The Small Business Guide to Health Insurance amalgamates the most salient points from the collect 6,000 companies to bring you things like:
- Average total plan costs
- Average deductibles
- Average employer contributions for health programs
- And more
Use data and insights from this guide to come closer to finalizing answers to your own internal questions, such as:
- What kinds of plans do we want to offer?
- What kinds of plans will be the most affordable?
- And which types of plans will my employees like best?
Once you have some semblance of the types of coverage you want to offer, it’s critical you communicate to staff the importance and value of the benefits you’re providing.
The next step is to ensure your staff has easy access to plan information and encourage their use of the program(s).
Unfortunately, most companies still use traditional benefits guides and open enrollment meetings to communicate perks with employees. This leads to a lot of manual processes and administrative tasks — not to mention lost opportunity cost for your business with meetings.
Moreover, employees lose hard copies of guides and end up sending HR staff questions one by one. This type of situation could be eliminated and scaled with digital employee documentation.
Smart, people-first companies are exploring how to use technology to create more intuitive enrollment experiences with staff, like offering plans, plan shopping, and plan comparisons right in their native HR mobile app.
This relieves HR professionals of the full administrative requirements and empowers employees to self-serve their HR needs.
Additionally, it helps increase employee adoption of benefit programs, which improves employee sentiment of your company in turn.
The final step is to become a vocal champion of your benefits programs.
Leaders in employee lifecycle management, like Sequoia, recognize the importance of championing benefits programs loudly and clearly with staff and job seekers, particularly in a tight labor market.
They say it’s, “even more important to make sure that companies are engaging and communicating well so employees understand the true value of the programs and coverage the company provides.”
But it’s not just employee awareness that matters. Companies need to publish perks publicly so job seekers can easily find and compare complete benefits packages across the employers they’re weighing.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple checklist of publishing will go far in your ability to promote your health programs. Consider this approach:
5 Ways to Champion your Perks
- Send internal emails to celebrate and remind staff of their perks
- Publish perks on your website
- Ensure third party sites like Linkedin and Glassdoor accurately reflect your benefits offerings
- Encourage staff to publish personal “success stories” on social media that showcase their realized value from your offerings
- Repost employees’ personal stories on your company’s social media pages
Building a successful business is hard work. But with the Small Business Guide to Health Insurance, navigating healthcare choices doesn’t have to be.
While each small business has its own unique goals and challenges when it comes to finding health insurance, the good news is there are new opportunities for affordable health insurance, new resources to help you discover them, and new ways to celebrate the perks you have.