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Insurance News

  • Top 5 Health Insurance Options for Small Business Groups in 2018

    The rising costs of health care aren’t just a problem for individuals—they’ve also impacted businesses that make health benefits a priority for their employees.

    Small businesses have been particularly vulnerable. Over the last 15 years, the cost to cover one employee under group health insurance rose nearly 200 percent—from $2,196 to $6,435.

    These unsustainable costs, coupled with the hassle and one-size-fits-all nature of traditional group benefits, have caused many small businesses to look for alternatives. And while health care costs continue to grow, the good news is that small group options have as well.

    In this post, we’ll review five of the most popular health benefits solutions for small groups in 2018:

    • Qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRAs)
    • Traditional group health insurance
    • Integrated HRAs
    • Health insurance purchasing co-ops
    • Taxable stipends

    We’ll go over how they work, what advantages they offer, and what disadvantages a business might have to contend with should it choose these options.

  • 5 Employee Alternatives to Health Insurance and How Your Business Can Support Them

    For small business employees, group health insurance is no longer the attractive benefit it once was. Today, employees are paying a record-high percentage of the total premium while watching their policy choices shrink.

    Since 2007, average worker contributions to group health premiums have increased 75 percent for single coverage and 74 percent for family coverage. In 2017, employees were responsible for 18 percent of the premium for single coverage and 31 percent of the premium for family coverage, or monthly payments of $101 and $476, respectively.

    At the same time, employees are given fewer policy choices from their company. Although data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute concludes that 80 percent of employees want a say in choosing their health benefits, small businesses offer just two policy options through group insurance on average. Many offer only one.

    In this environment, it’s hardly surprising that employees are abandoning their company’s group policy in favor of alternatives like health care sharing ministries or personal short-term policies.
    While these alternatives may help employees, though, they often hurt small businesses.

    Group health insurance policies carry strict participation requirements, mandating that at least 70 percent of employees offered coverage must either enroll or have coverage from another source. While some health insurance alternatives satisfy this requirement, others don’t; this means businesses that fail to meet participation requirements because employees have chosen alternatives are limited to buying a policy during a one-month open enrollment period at the end of the year. What’s more, employees who don’t receive any value from their company’s benefits package are more likely to leave their job.

    Thankfully, there’s an answer: the qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA). With a QSEHRA, all full-time employees can receive reimbursement for health care expenses, regardless of their insurance status.

    In this post, we’ll introduce the QSEHRA and explain how it works. Then, we’ll go over five common alternatives to traditional group coverage and explain how both a group policy and a QSEHRA would treat an employee using that alternative.

  • Health Insurance Reimbursement in 2018: What Are the Options?

    Small business health insurance is getting more expensive every year. A popular and effective way to avoid these costs is to cancel group coverage and reimburse employees for individual health care expenses instead.

    With a reimbursement benefit, small businesses can decide how much they want to spend toward their employees’ health care. They can also avoid the cumbersome administrative requirements of group benefits.

    But with health care policy perpetually changing, it’s hard for small businesses to keep track of which reimbursement benefits are compliant and which aren’t.

    In this post, we’ll go over the latest federal guidelines to help you understand your options for health insurance reimbursement in 2018.

  • Can You Offer Health Insurance to Certain Employees Only?

    Offering group health insurance is prohibitively expensive for most small businesses. To cut costs, many purchase high-deductible health policies, exclude part-time employees from eligibility, and require employees to pay a significant share of the premium.

    Some small businesses want to go further, though. Two particularly prominent cost-cutting strategies are offering health insurance only to some full-time employees, or offering different levels of benefits to different employees.

    But are these strategies legal? With health care policy changing almost annually, it’s hard to be sure.

    In general, the answer is yes, but businesses cannot make these decisions on a discriminatory basis.

    In this post, we’ll explore what the law requires, how businesses can legally restrict eligibility or offer different benefits to different employees, and whether these are good strategies to save on benefits costs.

  • What Constitutes a Group for Health Insurance?

    When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, U.S. businesses received a new federal requirement: provide health insurance to all full-time employees or face steep penalties from the IRS. This is known as the employer mandate.

    The new law made an exception, though. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees weren’t subject to the employer mandate. This is still the case today.

    Most small businesses still want to provide health benefits, though. Offering a good health benefits package helps businesses hire and keep talented workers, and many businesses feel they have a duty to provide for their employees.

    But meeting group health insurance requirements is often difficult. In addition to the costly premiums, small businesses question whether they’re large enough to qualify for group coverage and if they must meet any participation requirements.

    In this post, we’ll answer these questions as well as discuss some group health insurance alternatives for businesses interested in other approaches to benefits.

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