There are many reasons why an employer might want to offer “benefits” to their employees. Health insurance, dental and vision coverage are tax deductible for your business. They are also increasingly important as the California unemployment rate continues to decline. (The state’s unemployment rate in December 2017 was 4.2 percent, down from 5.2 percent a year earlier.)
Today, the competition is really heating up among businesses when it comes to the recruitment of new employees and retention of existing workers. In fact, according to a recent New York Times article, employers are increasingly taking more time to fill open jobs – and they are actively considering candidates they might have overlooked in the not-too-distant past.
What Do Employees Want?
If you’re investigating the addition of new benefits to your employee benefits package – or you’re considering benefits for the first time – you might be asking “what are the most popular employee benefits?” Should you consider health care, in-house child care, or doggie day care? The choice is yours.
In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Colonial Life, the five most popular employee benefits were:
- Health care and personal welfare (health insurance, vision, etc.)
- Preventive health and wellness programs
- Retirement and savings planning
- Leave benefits (paid time off)
- Flexible work schedules (including telecommuting)
Also popular among employees were compensation bonuses, career development (company-paid training), business travel perks (reimbursement of costs while traveling on business), and relocation benefits.
A 2016 SHRM report, Leveraging Benefits to Retain and Recruit Employees, found 73 percent of employees rank health care as the most important benefit. In a separate survey, Benefitfocus found 78 percent of workers base their acceptance or rejection of a job offer in part on the employer’s benefits package.
For the period 2013 through 2017, some benefits increased in popularity, while others saw a decline. The table below summarizes SHRM’s 2017 research.
|Benefits on the Rise||Benefits on the Decline|
|Free coffee||Medical Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)|
|Meal reimbursement for business travel||Defined contribution plan hardship withdrawals|
|Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)||Service anniversary awards|
|Financial advice||Undergraduate educational assistance|
|Meal flex (flexibility to make up time during the day due to a longer meal break or leave early due to a shorter meal break)||Graduate educational assistance|
|Standing desks||Defined contribution plan loans|
|Employer contributions to HSAs||Shift premiums|
|Sign-on bonus (for executive positions)||Compressed workweek|
|401(k) fund conversion to Roth 401(k)||Auto subsidy for business use of personal vehicle|
|Accelerated death benefit for terminal illness||Long Term Care insurance|
|Wholesale generic drug program for injectable drugs||Credit union membership|
|Sign-on bonus (non-executive positions)||Onsite cafeteria subsidized by employer|
|Shift flexibility||Paid travel expenses for spouse|
What you include in your organization’s benefits program is up to you – and driven, at least in part, by what portion of your budget you can allocate toward your employees’ benefits. Competitive wages are important, but some employees may be willing to work for a lower hourly or annual wage, if you offer a more comprehensive benefits program. That’s exactly what Aflac found in a previous study, in which 16 percent of employees said they have left a job or turned down a job due to the benefits offered.
Determining Your Budget
A health insurance broker can help you determine your employee benefits budget. Then, each of your workers can use your contribution to the plan premium like a gift card to purchase the coverage they like best.
If you choose a private health insurance exchange, like CaliforniaChoice, you can give your employees access to more choices and multiple plans from several different health insurers. CaliforniaChoice includes dozens of coverage options from seven of the state’s leading health plans: Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan, Sutter Health Plus, UnitedHealthcare, and Western Health Advantage. That means your employees can shop and compare plans to find the coverage that best fits their individual or family health insurance needs.
Your company costs are fixed for a year (subject, of course, to any new hires or employee departures). Each of employees receives the same contribution to his or her coverage. (You can’t pay 100 percent for one employee, while paying 30 percent for another.) At renewal, you can adjust your contribution to coverage, up or down, and stay with the CaliforniaChoice program.
If your employee chooses a health plan with a premium that exceeds your contribution, the employee pays the difference. It’s that simple.
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If you want to boost morale, increase employee retention, and offer more benefit choices to your workers, click below to get a custom quote for your business.
Orange County business owners and managers sometimes find it difficult when shopping for employee benefits and health insurance. It doesn’t have to be when you know about CaliforniaChoice, the small group multi-carrier, employee-choice program that offers California small businesses access to seven of the state’s leading health plans.
In Orange County, you can choose coverage from Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare, and give your employees access to more than three dozen plans. Employees have access to some of the region’s top health care facilities, including St. Joseph Health (St. Jude Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center, Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, and Mission Hospital Laguna Beach), UC Irvine Health, Hoag Memorial Regional Medical Center, and Saddleback Memorial.
Plus, we offer valuable tools to make it easy to match your health care needs to your health plan – and to enroll when you’re ready.
Business owners and managers in the San Joaquin Valley sometimes find it difficult when shopping for employee benefits and health insurance. For others, it’s less of a challenge – because they know about CaliforniaChoice and our employee benefits program that offers California small businesses access to seven of the state’s leading health plans.
In the Central Valley, you and your employees can choose coverage from Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health Plus, and UnitedHealthcare. Plus access to some of the region’s top networks and facilities, including Dameron Hospital, San Joaquin General Hospital, Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.
On top of all that, we offer valuable tools to make it easy to match your health care needs to your health plan – and to enroll when you’re ready.
|4 Things to Remember:
Proposed Legislation Could Shake Up Health Insurance Mergers
Since President Barrack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010, the health insurance industry has seen a lot of changes. Among them have been mergers and proposed mergers of some major players in the health care and insurance industries. However, some of that could change under proposed legislation making its way through the California legislature.
Not since the 1990s have so many health care management and hospitals initiated talks to discuss a possible consolidation. In fact, as reported by Managed Care magazine in 2016, an analysis by the consulting firm Kaufman Hall found health care-related mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and joint operating agreements almost doubled from 2010 to 2015. A 2017 post by Health Standards reported more than 560 hospital mergers since 2010, and there are more affiliations being discussed today by some of the country’s largest medical center and hospital operators.
On the insurance side of the health care industry, several major deals have been proposed, but some have not been completed because of government opposition. Those include the proposed consolidation of Anthem and Cigna, which terminated talks in 2017, and an Aetna-Humana marriage called off last year after 19 months of planning and growing opposition.
Deals – or proposed deals – announced in the past six months include Cigna’s acquisition of pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, a hookup of the retailer CVS with insurer Aetna, and discussions between the world’s largest company, Walmart, and America’s fourth-largest health insurer, Humana.
Some of these proposed consolidations could face an uphill battle if legislation now in the California State Senate is approved. Assembly Bill 595, authored by Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), would require health plans that would like to merge with or acquire other health plans to receive approval from the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC).
State regulators say they want to consider the impact on cost and quality of care that could result from any proposed merger or acquisition. Under current law, health plans must provide the DMHC with notice of a planned merger; however, the state has limited authority to review any proposed consolidation. Insurers oppose the proposed legislation saying it is too broad and approvals could be unreasonably high. As of mid-March, A.B. 595 is under review by two committees: the State Senate Committee on Health and the State Senate Judiciary Committee.
Another proposed legislative bill that could impact Californians’ health care – and health care costs – is Assembly Bill 3087. The bill would put an independent commission in charge of pricing for hospital stays, doctor visits, and many other medical services covered by commercial health plans. Costs would be based on rates approved for Medicare plans. A similar measure was enacted for Maryland’s all-payer program in 2014.
Proponents of A.B. 3087 – including labor unions and consumer groups – say it is designed to reduce escalating health care costs in the Golden State. According to the California Health Care Foundation, premiums for Californians who get their health insurance through their employer grew by more than 240% from 2002 to 2016. Inflation during the same period was about 40%.
The California Association of Health Plans says it is reviewing the cost control proposal; however, it has opposed previous efforts to regulate pricing. That includes a 2014 ballot initiative that would have empowered the state insurance commissioner to block rate increases considered excessive. Proposition 45, as it was known, was rejected by Californians in a 59 to 41 percent vote during the November 2014 election.
Passage chances for these two bills are not yet known. We will continue to monitor proposed legislation in Sacramento and will share updates.
If you’re a business owner or manager in Sacramento, and you’re shopping for employee benefits and health insurance, you should know about CaliforniaChoice. It’s a multi-carrier, employee-choice program that gives small businesses access to six of California’s leading health plans: Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health Plus, UnitedHealthcare, and Western Advantage.
You can choose from top networks and hospitals, including Dignity Health (Mercy Medical Center), Sutter Health, NorthBay Healthcare, and UC Davis Medical Center, among others. Plus, we deliver the tools to make it easy to match your health care needs to your health plan – and to enroll when you and your employees are ready.
Shopping for employee benefits and health insurance in the Bay Area can be a challenge – unless you know about CaliforniaChoice. Our multi-carrier, employee benefits program gives Northern California small businesses access to six of the state’s leading health plans.
You can choose coverage from Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health Plus, UnitedHealthcare, and Western Health Advantage.
You and your employees have access to some of the region’s top networks, hospitals, and medical professionals, including Brown & Toland Physicians, El Camino Hospital, Sutter Health (Alta Bates Summit, CPMC, Mills-Peninsula, and Palo Alto Medical), as well as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
We also deliver tools to make it easy to match your health care needs to your health plan – and to enroll when you’re ready.
Some business owners find it difficult when shopping for employee benefits and health insurance. For others, it’s less of a challenge because they know about the CaliforniaChoice multi-carrier, employee-choice program giving California small businesses access to seven of the state’s leading health plans.
In the Los Angeles region, your employees can choose coverage from Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare. And they have access to some of the region’s top networks, hospitals and medical centers, like Cedars-Sinai, Huntington Hospital, Saint John’s Health Center, in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Glendale, Downey, Santa Monica, the South Bay, San Fernando Valley, and Ventura County.
Plus, we deliver the tools to make it easy to match your health care needs to your health plan – and to enroll when you’re ready.