Involve employees and consider emerging plan options to find the healthiest choice for your business
Looking for even more ways to lower your small business’ health insurance costs—even after reading NFIB’s previous article on the subject, "5 Ways to Lower Your Health Insurance Costs?"
We’ve got five more suggestions by way of Vince Ashton, president and CEO of HealthPass New York; Sue Empie-Iozzo, head of Small Group for Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna; and Anthony Lopez, small group specialist at eHealthInsurance.com in Mountain View, California.
1. Involve your employees in the process.
Although Lopez warns that this is a sensitive area, because you can’t ask your employees about their health status or inquire into their personal healthcare utilization habits, "you can ask your employees to complete an anonymous survey that explores what kind of coverage they value most." You may, as a result of such a survey, find that they’re looking for robust preventive care, or that they want low copays and deductibles, for instance. Regardless, he says, "understanding your employees’ health insurance needs and preferences can help you when choosing between new options."
2. Use a defined-contribution model.
By determining a flat-dollar, per-enrollee amount, you can better control your costs as an employer, shares Ashton, who specifically suggests instituting a Section 125 POP (Premium-Only-Plan) "so that employee contributions can be made on a pre-tax basis."
3. Offer a consumer-directed health plan.
According to Empie-Iozzo, Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) encourage employees to make informed decisions about their care as well as spend wisely, which can lead to lower costs for their employers.
4. Implement an HSA-eligible health plan
Premiums tend to be a little lower for HSA-eligible health insurance plans, which Lopez says are worth a look because they provide employees with a valuable tax-saving tool. They’re doubly worth a look this year, he adds, "since contribution limits for Flexible Spending Accounts are being reduced. If your employees use FSAs and they’re frustrated with the lower contribution limits, moving them to an HSA-eligible plan and encouraging them to open HSAs can help them make up the difference."
5. Consider alternative arrangements.
A few questions Ashton suggests small business owners looking to reduce health insurance costs ask themselves: Are you large enough to self-fund? What about a private exchange? Can I buy minimum essential coverage and help with financing some of the employee out-of-pocket costs through an HRA?
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