As you begin your search for health insurance for your small business, it’s important to keep some basic concepts in mind. Here are 5 tips:
1: Get to know insurance basics: How much do you really know about health insurance? If you’re like many employers, the answer may be “a little, but not enough.” Before you start your search for your group’s coverage, get familiar with terms you’re likely to encounter. Familiarize yourself with things like deductible, co-payment (sometimes written as copay), HMO, PPO, EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization), drug formulary, and out-of-pocket and in-network costs. Knowing these terms will help you choose the coverage that meets the needs of your workforce and also fits your budget.
2: Review all of your options: Compare the materials available for the insurance companies and plans you’re considering. Take the time to look at the benefits, services, and costs of each. Be sure to include a range of companies – perhaps some national organizations like Anthem, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare as well as regional health plans like Cigna + Oscar, Health Net, Sutter Health Plus, Western Health Advantage, and Sharp Health Plan.
3: Get to know California’s Essential Health Benefits (EHBs): Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can determine their own EHBs. California includes the following benefits in ACA-compliant plans:
- Hospital care
- Visits to a primary care doctor and specialists
- Outpatient procedures, like surgery
- Laboratory tests and diagnostic services, like x-rays and mammograms
- Pregnancy and newborn care
- Preventive and routine care, like vaccinations and checkups
- Mental health care
- Emergency and urgent care
- Rehabilitation therapy, such as physical, occupational and speech therapy
- Some home health or nursing home care after a hospital stay
- Prescription drugs
- Substance abuse treatment
- Oral and vision care for children
Understanding what’s included in your plan can help you make a better choice.
4: Consider the current marketplace: Health care inflation in 2023 was up less than four percent; however, premiums are expected to rise in 2024. Multiple studies are forecasting bumps of as much as 10%. Read our blog post, Biggest Changes to Expect in 2024 for Group Health, for more information. Having this information may help you in determining your 2024 benefits budget.
5: Prepare for Your Group’s Enrollment: To get a quote for your group, you’ll need to develop a list of all of your eligible employees (and dependents, if they’ll be covered, too).
Once you’ve selected a health plan or program for employees, you need to determine how employees will enroll. You may choose a paper enrollment, online enrollment, or a combination of the two. It depends on the geographic distribution of employees, your selected insurer or administrator, and what you prefer.
Your Broker Can Help
A good way to start your search for employee benefits in 2024 is by talking with a broker. Using a broker to shop and compare plans won’t cost you anything. It could actually save your business money. That’s because your local broker will know the plans in your area that offer access to the doctors and hospitals you may prefer. If you don’t already have a broker, we make it easy for you to search for one.