3 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Group Health Insurance

February 24, 2023by Alex Strautman

No one ever said buying group health insurance was easy. There are several factors to consider and some common mistakes to avoid before the big decision. Here are the three missteps small business owners and HR managers should be mindful of before choosing an employee benefits program.

1: Assuming you know what’s best for employees.

The truth is every employee’s health care needs are different. They are affected by a long list of things, including:

  • age
  • gender
  • genetics/heredity
  • behaviors (e.g., drinking and smoking)
  • environment
  • physical influences
  • medical care
  • access to clean water and nutritious foods
  • family status (single, married, etc.)
  • housing
  • financial security
  • community safety
  • education
  • random events

A single heath plan option may have been the standard decades ago, but it is not ideal today. Employees expect more. That data reflects as much. You can check out the current health insurance landscape in the MetLife Employee Benefits Trends report.

Offering employees a program that empowers them to make their own health care choices will set you apart when it comes to your recruiting and retention efforts. That is especially true in today’s multi-generational, ethnically diverse workplace.

CaliforniaChoice offers coverage from eight premier health plans in a single program. It gives you and your employees access to 130+ plan designs, 20 providers networks, and more than 80,000 doctors so there are options for all.

2: Offering different benefits to different segments of your employee population.

This is not even permissible in California. State law requires small businesses to offer the same benefits to all employees. But that doesn’t mean every employee has to enroll in the same health plan.

CaliforniaChoice gives you the flexibility to offer your employees health insurance choices while you control your costs. That’s because you decide what amount you want to contribute to your employees’ coverage. You can choose a Fixed Percentage (of 50% to 100%) of a specific plan or benefit. Or you can contribute a Fixed Dollar Amount for each employee.


Your employees then apply your contribution to the coverage they prefer. One employee might choose a PPO from Anthem Blue Cross. Another might prefer an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan from Cigna + Oscar. A third employee might live in an area served by one of the CaliforniaChoice regional partners. Those include Sharp Health Plan in San Diego or Sutter Health Plus and Western Health Advantage in Northern California.

3: Shopping for coverage without using an employee benefits broker.

Contrary to what you might think, using a health insurance broker does not cost you or your business more. In fact, it could save you money on your group health insurance coverage. Local brokers will know the most popular plans in your area. They will know what doctors and hospitals are part of each plan’s provider network (and who is out of network). A broker works for you, not the insurance company. The focus is always on finding a plan or program that best serves you and the needs of your employees, while helping control costs for your business. A broker can help with your group’s enrollment and assist throughout the year if there are service or claims-related issues.

Your broker will also be able to help you understand any “value-added benefits” that may be available. Some health plans offer members added benefits at no cost. These can include discounted gym memberships, prescription drug savings, and fitness and wellness discounts. Some may even offer savings on tickets to movies, sporting events, and entertainment venues.

The CaliforniaChoice Member Value Suite includes these free benefits and move. Your employees can also save on:

  • travel
  • home and office services
  • food delivery service
  • online learning
  • warehouse club memberships

In addition, the CaliforniaChoice Business Solutions Suite includes:

  • online HR support
  • initial set-up of a Premium Only Plan (POP)
  • Flexible Spending Accounts for employees
  • COBRA billing services

When comparing employee benefits programs, it’s always good to look at the total package. A broker can help you determine what is the best value for your premiums. If you don’t already have a broker, you can search for one here.

Shopping for group health insurance?

This guide compiles a list of common questions you may have before you start offering health insurance coverage.