Affordable Health Care for Small Business

Published On: January 30, 2014By Categories: Blog

By Lana Straub

As small business owners, it’s hard to always provide what your employees need.  However, many small business owners pride themselves on trying to stay ahead of the game and figure out what the employee needs before he or she even asks for it.  Such is the way with my family’s environmental drilling business.

My husband, his brother, his mother, and his father have always wanted the best for their employees and tried to provide for their needs and make the employees in their family business feel just like family.  Providing health insurance for their employees has been one of those benefits—something provided before the employee asked for it or even knew they might need it.  Long before it was government-mandated or considered they provided it.  They also provided it long before it was even discussed using the word “affordable.”  They provided it because they felt like it was a benefit provided at an upstanding place of business.

Each year the cost continued to rise at about 10%. This past year with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the cost went up 3%, just with the addition of government fees.  Now it’s renewal time.  Alternatively, open enrollment as you’ve probably heard it discussed in the media.

However, renewal/open enrollment this year is a little different.  My family finds themselves scratching their heads about what would best meet their employee’s needs.  For the first time, the employees have the opportunity to purchase their own plans, tailor-designed to how they want insurance to be, providing x cost of co-pay, and y cost of deductible.  Moreover, some employees, depending on family size might even be eligible for cost subsidies.  The new Affordable Care Act has created a tremendous amount of freedom for the employee.

For the small business owner…not so much.  Small business group policies are still averaging $1600 for a middle-aged family of four. A comparable individual family policy I have seen is at least $600 a month cheaper.  That savings could equal a car payment for your employee.

There are so many questions that no one is addressing yet.  As small business owners, we are told not to worry, that the law won’t even affect us…yet.  But it does. If your employee can get cheaper insurance for their dependents on their own, why would they pay your high small group premiums?  I wouldn’t.  They won’t either.

Don’t wait for your agent to ask you about your health insurance and what you want to do with your small business. If you provide insurance for your employees, the time to start asking questions is now. If they drop off your plan to get it more affordably on their own, what does that do to your group participation? Preparation is the key to keeping your business afloat in these trying economic times.  Several sites are out there: health care.gov, nfib.com, and commonwealthfund.org just to name a few.  You’ll also find answers in the Water Well Journal in the coming months.

Don’t wait for government mandates to do your research.  Start asking your agent about your coverage and your options. If he or she can’t answer your questions, maybe it’s time for a new agent.

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