Health is wealth. Sick days and absences profoundly impact your employees’ productivity. In turn, this could take a toll on your business revenue. If you want your workers to always be at their best, then you should provide them with good health insurance. This is a pretty desirable benefit after all.
Even if your revenues are not that high, you can still give your employees with the best coverage in the market. All you need to do is consider any of the listings below.
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How to Select the Best Small Business Health Insurance
Many health insurance companies promise great coverage, among many other things. But before you make the final decision, it’s best if you keep these factors into consideration:
1. Number of employees
Businesses with less than 50 employees are not required to get group insurance. Although this is the case, this benefit can help you attract more new talent – and retain the good ones. As with bulk purchases, the number of employees may dictate how much you need to pay. With that being said, you need to compare several companies as this will help you get the best value for your buck.
2. General health of your employees
You need to capture an overall picture of your employees’ health. You can do this by gathering info about their ages, health conditions, and how often they go to the doctor. For example, if most of your employees need to have periodic doctor visits, this may prompt you to choose a service with higher premiums but lesser co-pays, etc.
Cheap plans usually have limited network coverage. If you live in a rural area, you may need to drive for a few hours just to reach the doctor in your insurance system. Remember, you want your employees to get the best care deserve without having to drive far.
Apart from offering many provider options, a plan with a comprehensive network is also cheaper in the long run. A large network means a higher likelihood of having your doctor in the system. This would mean lesser co-pays for consultations and whatnot.
4. Prescription Drug Coverage
Getting medications is a commonly used service in health plans. As such, you must check the insurer’s prescription drug coverage. Reconciling this with your employees’ medications can help your workers greatly.
5. Additional Services
As long as your employees are willing, why not tap into other services as well? For one, you should consider vision and dental plans, among many others. This can entitle them to discounts, preventive care, and other attractive benefits.
Is the plan too good to be true? Well, maybe it is. Before you sign up for a contract, do your research first. Ask similar companies who have availed the services of the insurance provider. How long have they been affiliated with the company? Do they pay the claims quick enough? These questions can help you decide if the cheap price is truly worth your buck.
Once you have determined the company’s ability to pay, you may proceed with the next chapter: the various costs. Here are the fees you and your employees need to settle:
- Deductibles, which is the amount paid out of pocket.
- Premiums, which is the amount that entitles one to access the plan’s services. This is usually paid monthly at a 50-50 employee-employer share. As a rule, lower premiums mean higher deductibles and vice-versa.
- Copays, or a per-visit fee that may change according to the deductible amount. This is usually required for additional services such as specialist visits, ambulance and ER services, and certain types of therapies.
The plan’s underwriter is the actual insurer. The best way to avoid a scam is to call the underwriter itself to check its affiliation with the plan provider.
You can also call the state’s insurance department and ask for its AM Best rating. This determines the company’s capacity to pay claims. You can also refer to the Standard & Poor’s claims-paying ability rating. If the service provider has neither of these, then you may need to switch to your next option.
8. Adherence to State Regulations
Apart from providing ample healthcare coverage, a good insurer should be able to adhere to state regulations. You can check the company’s status by contacting your state’s insurance department.
12 Best Small Business Health Insurance Companies
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance company is all about providing smarter, better healthcare services to employees. It does so enhancing care in communities, improving network solutions, personalizing worker engagement, and innovating new projects.
It offers several insurance options, including:
- BlueCard PPO. As the US’ leading network, it services 96% of hospitals and 95% of physicians in the US. It is best for businesses that wish to link their employees to most of the country’s healthcare system.
- Blue High-Performance Network. This plan connects employees to a comprehensive network without the high costs.
- Blue Distinction Specialty Care. It covers centers of excellence, including 9 high-cost specialty areas. This helps minimize the high cost of care for those in need of specialized healthcare.
- Total Care. This plan provides services from value-based providers. It is highly recommended for employees with chronic conditions.
For businesses, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers group plans that include ambulatory care services, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity, and newborn healthcare, mental health services, prescription medications, rehabilitation, diagnostic work-ups, chronic disease care, and pediatric dental coverage.
Here is an example of a Blue Cross Blue Shield group plan:
- Healthy Blue Achieve PPO
- Annual deductible: $250 to $500 for Platinum, $1000 to $2000 for Gold
- Coinsurance percentage: 20-30% for Platinum, 20-40% for Gold
- Embedded coinsurance maximum: $500 to $1000 for Platinum, $4000 to $8000 for Gold
- Out of pocket maximum: $6600 to $13200 for Platinum, $8150 to $13600 for Gold
- PCP Office visit copays: $20 to $30 for Platinum, $20 to $40 for Gold
- Preferred Generic pharmacy copays: $10 to $20 for Platinum, $15 to $20 for Gold
- Blue Cross Blue Shield covers a vast network of healthcare providers.
- It utilizes data-driven healthcare solutions.
- You need to contact a sales representative to learn more about its plans and programs.
- It is more expensive because of its vast network of services.
United Healthcare is all about creating healthy businesses. After all, it is vital for recruiting new employees – and maintaining your old ones. At the same time, it can improve productivity and worker satisfaction.
With United Healthcare, your business is entitled to low rates (varies according to the area). With its many offerings, you can choose from any of the available plans:
- Consumer-driven health plans. These cover health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts, which can help workers use services more efficiently.
- Tiered-benefit plans. With its many types, this plan can lead to more savings. Here, employees are advised to make decisions as to where to get care.
- Primary care centered plans. Through this plan, an employee can select a primary care physician who will help him or her through the healthcare process.
- Defined contribution plans. This entails a fixed dollar amount for every worker. Afterward, an employee can reimburse him or herself for his or her healthcare expenses.
The company also offers group benefit plans that cover dental and vision services. For one, the company’s dental plan comes with 100% preventive care coverage, prenatal or orthodontic care, and oral cancer screening.
As for its vision plan, employees can enjoy coverage on most eye care expenses, frame allowance, and contact lens benefits, to name a few.
Insurance pricing depends on the plan, the number of employees, and location. You can request a quote through the official website.
- United Healthcare offers large group savings. To wit, the All Savers plan comes with rebates for employees who don’t use their insurance frequently.
- Small businesses are assigned with a dedicated service representative who can help the members with every step of the way.
United Healthcare has some issues with mental health coverage.
Humana is a health insurance provider based in Louisville, Kentucky. Established in 1961, the company prides itself on pursuing healthcare innovations and improving community wellness.
Included in its wide array of services is its small business health insurance. Made for companies with 2 to 50 employees, the Humana insurance strives to keep employees healthy – and their businesses productive.
Its benefit plans cover 4 types. The most famous is its medical plan, which comes with the following packages:
- Canopy – This comes with higher deductible amounts and co-pays for basic services. It is recommended for fairly healthy individuals with minimal medical needs.
- Simple – For budget-conscious employees, this coverage has no deductible. Services, however, entail a co-pay.
- HDHP – With its high deductible amount and 0 co-pay, this plan is made for healthy individuals who want annual preventive care. It also provides coverage for an unforeseen medical event.
- Efficiency – With its low-cost premium, this bundle is perfect for employers in search of in-network discounts.
- Co-pay – A traditional health plan, this covers routine services and other issues.
Its dental plan, on the other hand, is available in 3 tiers:
- Preventive Plus – As the name suggests, this comes with annual preventive dental care.
- Traditional Preferred – This gives employees the freedom to choose a service provider and pay negotiated rates.
- Dental Preferred Provider Organization – This comes with in-network dentists that provide affordable services.
Should you decide to offer vision coverage, you may choose from any of these offers:
- Exam Plus – This comes with $10 routine eye exams and a 35% discount on frames.
- Humana Vision – This plan covers contacts, eyeglasses, and vision exams.
- Materials Only – As the name suggests, this only pays for contacts and eyeglasses.
Humana also offers a level-funded premium that is specially made for small businesses. This offers the predictable fees with the savings of an administrative-services only account. As a bonus, this comes with enjoyable wellness programs as well.
- Humana has an extensive network of service providers.
- The website has clear details of all of its insurance plans.
Humana is only limited to a select number of states.
Aetna is a managed healthcare enterprise located in Hartford, Connecticut. Established in 1853, it sells traditional and consumer-centric healthcare plans. As for employers, Aetna provides cost-effective insurance plans that cater to small businesses.
With Aetna insurance, employers are treated with the following:
- More savings, since payments are based on health trends. Apart from its cheap local network offerings, you are also entitled to a 50% return when you renew your plan by the end of the year.
- Predictable and stable costs, which are bundled with wellness offerings, funding options, and stop-loss claim protection.
- Simplicity,as insurance plans and benefits are available in the national portfolio.
- Speedy service, since you get immediate yet accurate quotes, case installation, and fixed plan designs, to name a few.
One of its offers is the Aetna Funding Advantage health plan. Similar to large group insurance, this plan comes with high-cost claims protection, surplus sharing, and lower taxes. With this package, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- A monthly payment dependent on the employees’ health and well-being
- Stop-loss insurance to reduce the damage of high-cost claims, with a money-back guarantee for lower claims
- Features such as enrollment, administration, and online shopping
Prices are available by request.
- Aetna is a reputable country with a large network of service providers.
- The company is one of the leading figures in terms of customer satisfaction.
Like Humana, Aetna services are not available in all US states.
Kaiser Permanente is a California-based managed care consortium. Founded in 1945, it operates in 8 states – plus the District of Columbia.
As for small businesses, Kaiser Permanente offers health insurance plans that offer great coverage and convenience – at an affordable cost. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from the company’s 6 offerings:
- Traditional HMO
With its predictable and consistent fees, you don’t have to pay for deductibles. Despite its lower co-pays, you need not worry about accomplishing claim forms and whatnot.
- Deductible HMO
Compared to the traditional HMO, this has a wide range of deductibles. Premiums, however, are cheaper. It can be used together with a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA).
- HSA/HRA-Qualified Plans
Here, you can use your tax-free money to pay for healthcare services. While HRAs give more flexibility, HSAs provide employees with a better locus of control.
- Deductible HMO with HRA Plans
This comes with funds that are tax-deductible for business owners and tax-free for workers. At the same time, employees also get to enjoy tax-free benefits for some out-of-pocket expenses. Similar to the deductible HMO, this is cheaper than the traditional HMO.
- PPO Plans
This plan offers widescale service in and outside of accredited areas. With its single-carrier administration features, it entitles employees to referral-free access to any service provider.
- Point-of-Service Plans
If your employees want flexible services at a cheap price, then this is a good deal. This is a marriage between Kaiser Permanente’s traditional HMO and point-of-service package. Although it comes with limited choices, the premiums are markedly cheaper.
Prices are only available upon request.
- Kaiser Permanente services focus on preventive healthcare.
- The website provides detailed info about its small business health insurance plans.
As mentioned, Kaiser Permanente is only available in 9 locations.
Cigna is a health services organization created in 1982. Based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, it offers health insurance plans that offer the right mix of benefits and services.
For smaller workforces with 25 to 99 employees, Cigna offers whole-person health plans. These include the following:
- Wide, nationwide networks and local-based systems
- Affordable options, including deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance packages
- Cigna Level Funding solution, which works best for small businesses
- Comprehensive coverage for emotional health
- Cigna One Guide, a service that combines technology and empathetic support
- Personalized website with 2 virtual assistants that detail the health insurance benefits in question
- 24/7 customer service
As for businesses with 51-99 employees, Cigna offers the following benefits:
- Wide service network. Workers are entitled to national and local provider networks – so they get the best healthcare services wherever they may be.
- Flexible funding options. Employers get to choose from insured or self-funded options. No matter what you choose, this can help you satisfy your business needs.
- Integrated benefits. Apart from health insurance, Cigna also offers dental and pharmacy benefit management plans.
The company’s group health insurance plans include:
- Open Access Plus.It offers access to the national network without the need for referrals from primary care physicians.
- Preferred Provider Organization.This comes with more flexibility for service providers outside the Cigna network.
- Local Plus.This low-cost package covers providers and facilities within the vicinity.
- Cigna Sure Fit. This allows for customization but is only available in a few areas.
- Health Maintenance Organization or Network. This covers services in a local area.
- Indemnity Plan.Since this doesn’t come with network requirements, employees are free to visit any service provider and institution without a referral.
Pricing is available upon request.
- Cigna offers a wide variety of health insurance options.
- The company has extensive nationwide and local networks.
Cigna services are limited to 10 states.
7. Oscar Health
Oscar Health is a technology-centric insurance company based in New York. Established in 2012, it has partnered with Cigna to provide health insurance to small businesses. It is one of the more affordable insurance providers in the country, with prices starting at $611.
So how does Oscar Health make this possible? For one, it offers a free doctor on call. Employees can check with physicians for 15 minutes and get the advice and prescription they need. There’s no need to wait, and most importantly, no co-pays that burn through the wallet.
Oscar Health members also get access to a free concierge service, a service where every employer and employee gets his or her own nurse. Should there be a concern, the member could contact the team right away.
Another great thing about Oscar Health is that it does not require any referrals. There’s no need to go to a primary care physician to get some documents. Members get to go straight to specialists right away.
As a tech company, Oscar Health makes benefits management easier with its intuitive tool. With this portal, employers can make payments, browse through plans, even add or edit or remove employees.
- Oscar Health has a high customer satisfaction rating of 23 NPS.
- It has one of the cheapest plans in the area at $611.
The Oscar Health and Cigna health insurance plans are only available in Atlanta, Bay Area, and Tennessee.
8. Health Net
Health Net LLC is a branch of the Centene Company. This managed care company offers small business health insurance to the states of California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon.
Its plans, called Small Groups 2.0, is available in 4 levels. The difference lies in how much the employer and the insurance company pays.
Its full HMO comes in Platinum ($10, $20, $30), Gold ($30, $35, $40), and Silver ($50). individual payor prices range from:
- $2000 to $7350 for out-of-pocket payments
- $10 to $50 for office specialist visit
- $40 to $480 for outpatient surgery
- $100 to $300 for emergency room use
- $300 for Rx Brand deductible (Silver only)
- $5 to $70 for Rx Drug tier
Other offers include Community Care HMO, PPO, Enhanced Care PPO, and Pure Care HSP.
Health Net also offers multiple plans. Its Enhanced Choice and Enhanced Choice packages are classified into 2:
- Businesses with 1 to 5 employees. The minimum employee participation is 66%, while the employers pay 50% of the base plan.
- Businesses with 6 to 99 employees. The participation minimum for employees is 50%, while the employer pays a minimum of $100.
- Health Net offers a wide range of insurance plans.
- It offers multiple plans that incorporate the company’s various packages.
Health Net Services are confined to 4 states only.
Highmark is an integrated delivery network company headquartered in Pennsylvania. Its services are available in its home state of Pennsylvania, plus Ohio, Delaware, and West Virginia. It offers a wide array of plans, including:
- Community Blue Plan
This covers services offered by providers within the Community Blue network. Not only does it provide access to thousands of physicians, but it is also recognized in 9 out of 10 Pennsylvania hospitals.
- Connect Blue Plan
This patient-centered plan is one of the company’s more affordable services. The contract includes service providers and institutions near the employee’s home and office address.
- EPO Plan
Limited to Pennsylvania and Delaware, it provides easy access to primary care doctors and specialists.
- PPO Plan
This balances coverage and choice, helping employees manage the associated healthcare costs.
- HMO Plan
This package comes with a wide network of physicians and medical centers.
- Traditional Plan
Members get to choose from a traditional system of physicians and hospitals.
No matter what package you choose, Highmark plans come with various benefits, including spending accounts, bundled benefits, and pharmacy benefits, to name a few.
Apart from providing insurance services, Highmark is all about improving business health as well. The company makes this possible through the wealth of useful information available through its Employer Resources portal.
- Highmark offers a wide variety of small business health insurance plans.
- Plan details are easily available on the website.
Highmark services are only available in 4 areas.
10. Sharp Healthcare
Sharp Healthcare is a non-profit health care company based in San Diego, California. While it is known for its hospitals, it offers group health insurance for small local businesses as well.
Sharp offers packages in Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze tiers. All of these include:
- Excellent care. Employees get to enjoy a world-class treatment from the system’s renowned hospitals and service providers.
- Personalized healthcare. The company can help you find the right physician or institution for your needs.
Should you want to go for an HMO plan that marries the benefits of PPO, then you could sign up for point-of-service plans. Its Tier 1 allows you to access the Sharp system’s physicians and hospitals, with your primary care physician coordinating all the services. This plan comes with free preventative care, with co-pays for other services.
Tier 2, on the other hand, provides access to the Aetna network. Here, you can make appointments with any service provider in the country. However, you need to get precertification from the company before you could sign up for out-of-network services.
It also offers a Best Health Wellness program for free. Through this benefit, employees are entitled to health coaching, workout and diet plans, exercise tracking, and other discounts.
Prices are available here.
- Sharp works with Aetna, a trusted insurance company, for its out-of-network services.
- Employees get to enjoy additional benefits, such as the Best Health Wellness program.
- Sharp Healthcare coverage is only limited to San Diego, California.
- Precertification is required for out-of-network service providers.
Based in New York, Independent Health is a company that specializes in health-related services. Established in 1980, it serves 8 counties in Western New York.
More than just providing affordable healthcare plans, the company is known for its revolutionary approaches. For one, it promises better coordination between specialists – a factor that can help lower costs while still maintaining excellent service. It also eliminates no-value medical care, while still practicing proven healthcare strategies.
Outside of its revolutionary approaches, the company offers four types of insurance plans for small businesses.
If you want the best for your employees, then this package is perfect for your company. The employee quarterly rate ranges from $632 to $688.
This plan offers comprehensive coverage at much lower rates. It also comes with a low deductible fee. Prices range from $532 to $579 quarterly.
This tier comes with quality benefits at lower premium rates. Although this is the case, this comes with additional deductibles and more out-of-pocket costs. Despite such drawbacks, the Silver plan can be combined with HSA or HRA programs. Rates range from $461 to $539.
This low-premium plan comes with a high-deductible design. As such, this allows your employees to make better health decisions. Again, this may be combined with an HSA or HAS account. Rates range from $405 to $442.
- Independent Health adopts the use of efficient health information technology.
- Its HMO/PPO services are rated 4.5 out of 5.
Services are limited to Western New York counties.
If your small business is based in this tropical paradise, then you should consider the insurance plans offered by the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA). Founded in 1938, it currently insures about 700,000 Hawaiians.
HMSA offers a wide variety of plans. One is the A Status Medical Plan, where employers shoulder half of its workers’ premiums. The balance, however, should not exceed 1.5% of the employee’s gross monthly wages.
Here are the 4 types of A Status plans:
- Preferred Provider Plan A. This PPO plan comes with a premium of $340. It has a max out-of-pocket cost of $2500, co-insurance of 10-20%, and doctor’s visit payment of $12.
- Health Plan Hawaii Gold A. This HMO plan is cheaper at $291. It has the same max out of pocket amount, though its co-insurance rate is $20 while the doctor’s visit fee is $20.
- Health Plan Hawaii Plus A. This HMO package comes with a monthly premium of $334. The co-insurance rate is 10-20%, while the max out of pocket and doctor’s visit fees are the same as above.
- CompMED – A. This PPO plan costs $336 monthly. Its doctor’s visit fee is $14, while the co-insurance rate is 20%. Max out of pocket is still $2500.
- CompMED Choice – A. This HMO plan costs $326 and comes with a deductible amount of $200. Its’ out of pocket payment is lower at $2200.
The B status plan, on the other hand, is for family premiums. This category includes the Preferred Provider Plan B, which costs $293.
HMSA also offers 4 Vision plans with the following fees:
- Single-lens – $10
- Multifocal lenses – $10
- Contact lenses – $25 for fees over $130
- Contact lens fitting – Less $45
- Frames – $15
- HMSA offers complementary care plans. These cover acupuncture and massage therapy.
- It is one of the well-trusted companies in Hawaii.
HMSA services are limited to the state of Hawaii.
Frequently Asked Questions
There four health insurance options available for small businesses. They are:
a. Traditional Indemnity Plan or Fee for Service
This plan gives your employees the freedom to choose their own healthcare provider. It is up to the insurance company to directly pay the physician or reimburse the payor for the expenses he or she has incurred.
b. Managed Care
This is available in 2 forms: Health maintenance organization (HMO) or Preferred provider organization (PPO).
An HMO is a prepaid type of service. Here, workers must seek the services of HMO-accredited service providers or institutions. PPO, on the other hand, is in charge of negotiating with hospitals and/or doctors. The insured can select from a list of service providers. Patients have to pay a certain amount per visit, with the insurance company being in charge of the rest.
This is a plan where you ‘absorb’ some portion of the risk. While a certain company handles the documents, you pay the fees while you assist your workers in paying their premiums. This comes with cash-flow advantages, apart from better plan design control and customized reporting.
Although this is the case, self-insurance makes you, the employer, liable for claims. You can, however, limit this stop-loss insurance. Here, the company will end up paying for the amount that goes over the limit.
d. Archer Medical Savings Account
This program entitles the employee of a small business to set up a plan that pays for healthcare fees. This is made in conjunction with an American financial institution, which facilitates the saving of money for healthcare-exclusive expenses. This can be funded with pretax money, especially if it’s linked with a high-deductible insurance policy.
With this program, disbursements used for medical expenses are rendered tax-free. Unused funds, on the other hand, are free to accumulate and earn tax-free interest.
For one, it can help you attract new talents – and retain the old ones. In a competitive marketplace, salary is not always the primary consideration amongst applicants. A lot of people consider benefits, with health insurance being one of them.
A health insurance policy will also make your business rise above the rest. As mentioned, it can attract a good talent pool. When word comes out that you offer such a benefit, you’re sure to make a mark on prospective applicants positively.
The most important benefit of this is that you help keep your employees healthy. When your company has insurance, your employees will be less likely to take sick days. Since they have access to proper health care, they get to shorten their convalescence period. This will improve their productivity, which will be highly beneficial to your business.
5 factors can affect the cost of your small business health insurance. They are:
a. Benefit payments.
You need to consider the maximum price that you’d pay for in deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance.
b. Shared costs.
While group health insurance is covered by the employer, the monthly premiums are shared by all workers.
c. Physician network.
Your preferred physician may not be available at a lower plan. To get his or her services, you may need to upgrade to the next tier.
d. Prescription medications.
Not all drugs are covered by insurance. Again, you may need to opt for a more expensive plan if you want to have all your medications included.
e. Additional coverage.
Should you wish to go for dental or vision care, you may need to pay a higher monthly premium.
Compared to individual insurance plans, you can apply for a small business health insurance throughout the year. But before you can do this, you first need to meet the requirements.
For one, you need to have at least one full-time employee. If you’re the only one in your company, you can still get a small business health insurance granted that you have paid 1,099 contractors within the last year.
Yes. Your small enterprise can get such a benefit as long as you meet the following requirements:
a. You have <25 full-time employees.
b. Employees receive an average salary of less than $54,200.
c. You pay at least 50% of the employee premiums.
Generally speaking, a business with less than 10 workers – with an average salary of less than $25,000 – are entitled to a higher tax credit. No matter what amount you get, this would give you the necessary funding for the best health insurance for your workers.
Should your company decide to provide group health insurance, you need to declare the insurance value for each worker. As per IRS requirements, this should be written on the employee’s W2 form with the code DD.
If the worker’s compensation is more than $200,000, then you need to withhold and report an additional 0.9%.
Additionally, your small business should also pay for the funding of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. This should be noted in Form 720.
Also known as SHOP, this online marketplace allows employers and employees to choose their insurance. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, this helps provide affordable coverage for small businesses.
To avail of this program, you need to meet the following requirements:
a. Business located within the applicable site
b. Less than 100 full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week
c. Valid federal employer ID
Prices depend on plans. For one, those who don’t go to a doctor often – and don’t mind paying a higher co-pay as needed – can go for the plan with the lowest monthly premium. On the other hand, those who need to visit their physicians often will benefit from a plan with a high monthly premium and a low co-pay.
Small business health insurance can help you attract new talent and retain your loyal employees. The services that come with this also make your employees better, which is pivotal for business productivity.
When choosing a small business health insurance, you should consider the number and health of your employees, the service network, prescription drug coverage, additional services, and of course, the price. Looking up the company’s underwriter and adherence to state regulations will help as well.