Health insurance is something that folks often don’t think about until there’s a need for care. But for real estate agencies looking to attract new agents, health insurance is a highly sought-after employee benefit.
It can reduce employee absenteeism, encourage employee loyalty, and boost job satisfaction. It can foster a company culture of caring. It also reduces employees’ out-of-pocket costs for vital care. Offering health insurance may be tax deductible for your organization, too.
For employers with 50 or more full-time employees, or the right combination of full-time and part-time workers, you may be required to offer health insurance. That’s because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a mandate for so-called Applicable Large Employers (ALEs). If you are an ALE and you don’t offer minimum essential coverage, your business could face ACA penalties.
If you’re not sure if your business is an ALE, you can use a group size calculator to determine your ALE status. More information is available on the IRS website.
CaliforniaChoice offers the following ACA calculators on its website:
- ACA Full-Time Equivalent calculator
- ACA Penalties calculator
- ACA Safe Harbor calculator
Employers consistently rank health insurance among their most-valued employee benefits. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found 88% of employers believe health-related benefits are “very important” or “extremely important.” That puts health benefits ahead of retirement savings, family care, leave, and seven other benefits.
For employees, health insurance is also viewed favorably. According to the 2023 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study, medical/health insurance is considered a top “must-have” benefit by 79% of employees. That put it above paid leave (77%), a 401(k) or other retirement plan (75%), dental insurance (73%), or vision care or a vision discount program (70%).
Flexibility Makes CaliforniaChoice a Good Choice for Real Estate Agencies and Realtors
Realtors and other sales professionals often work independently. Or they may work as part of a small, medium, or large agency. If you operate an agency, regardless of size, you may want to consider health coverage for your sales and other staff. Unless you’re an ALE (as mentioned above), you’re not obligated to offer coverage. Yet, it may make sense as part of your recruitment and retention strategy and to build better relations with employees.
If you want to offer coverage, you can buy it directly through a carrier, or use a broker to help you shop and compare options in your area. In spite of what you might expect, using a broker doesn’t cost you more. In fact, using a broker could save you and your organization money. A local broker will know the most-popular plans in your area and the health care providers that are part of each plan’s provider network.
If you’re a California-based employer, you will want to ask your broker about CaliforniaChoice. It’s a multi-carrier, employee-choice private health insurance exchange. And it’s been serving California small businesses since 1996.
CaliforniaChoice gives you the flexibility to offer employees HMO, PPO, and EPO choices. It can help you control costs for your business. You decide what amount you want to contribute to 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. Whichever you choose, you have to offer all employees the same contribution.
CaliforniaChoice is a good match for real estate companies like yours. More than 45% of CaliforniaChoice groups are in the services industry.
If you don’t want to offer a group health plan, you can direct employees to the Covered California public exchange, where they can purchase Individual or Family coverage on their own. Some may even be eligible for an ACA premium subsidy, depending on their household income.
If you’re an affiliate of a national brand like Re/Max, Coldwell Banker, or others, you may be able to get health insurance through that partnership.
In some states, real estate and other sales professionals may have access to association health plan (AHP) coverage. An AHP allows those with a “commonality of interest” to purchase health coverage through an association. AHP group health is not available in California. It is also prohibited in a handful of other states. Several legislatures expressed concern about coverage that does fully comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. For more information, check out our blog post, What California Employers Need to Know About Association Health Plans.
Another useful article is 5 Tips When You’re Shopping for Group Health Insurance.
Talk With a Broker to Learn More
Whether you have a real estate agency or another type of service-oriented business, an employee benefits broker can help you. A broker will discuss what health coverage might work best for your business and your employees. If you don’t already have a broker, you can search for one on the MyCalChoice website.