Man looking at wall of questionsA thorough familiarization with health insurance practices andterms will allow employers to make the most knowledgeabledecisions for their employees and business. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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As a small business owner, offering competitiveemployee benefits is a crucial way to attract and retain strong talent. Whether you currently providethem and are planning next year's renewal, or you are thinking ofoffering them for the first time, here are five things you shouldconsider before your employees enter the open enrollment period fornext year on November 1st:

1. Small businesses don't have to wait until open enrollment tooffer benefits to their employees

While your employees won't be able to enroll in health insurance plans until November comesalong, small business owners don't have to wait at all to securehealth insurance for their employees. The sooner you act, thebetter, to guarantee that you and your employees are protected.According to recent studies, healthier employees are happieremployees, and as a result, will contribute to a more productiveworkplace. And a more positive and constructive work environment isbetter for you, your employees, and your business as a whole.

2. Health literacy is important

Whether you've provided health insurance to your employeesbefore, or you're looking into doing so for the first time, it isalways worthwhile to prioritize health insurance literacy. There isa host of terminology and acronyms, not to mention rules andregulations that can be overwhelming to wrap your head around.

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Thankfully, the internet is full of relevant information,ranging from articles to explainer videos, that should have you upto speed in no time. Having a good understanding of insuranceconcepts such as essential health benefits, employer contributions,out-of-pocket maximums, coinsurance, provider networks, co-pays,premiums, and deductibles is a necessary step to being betterequipped to view and compare health plan options side-by-side. Athorough familiarization with health insurance practices and termswill allow you to make the most knowledgeable decisions for youremployees and your business.

3. Offering health insurance increases employee retention

Employees want to feel like their health is a priority, and aremore likely to join a company and stay for longer if their healthcare needs are being met. A current survey shows that 56 percent ofAmericans whose employers were sponsoring their health careconsidered whether or not they were happy with their benefits to bea significant factor in choosing to stay with a particular job. TheEmployee Benefit Research Institute released a survey in 2016 whichshowed a powerful connection between decent workplace healthbenefits and overall employee happiness and teamspirit—59 percent percent of employees who were pleased withtheir benefits were also pleased with their jobs. And only8 percent of employees who were dissatisfied with theirbenefits were satisfied with their jobs.

4. Alleviate health insurance costs

High insurance costs can be an obstacle for small businessowners. A new survey suggests that 53 percent of Americansmall business owners stress over the costs of providing healthcare to their employees. The 2017 eHealth report reveals thatnearly 80 percent of small businesses owners are concernedabout health insurance costs, and 62 percent would consider a15 percent increase in premiums to make small group healthinsurance impossible to afford. However, there are resources inplace to help reduce these costs, so they aren't too much of abarrier. One helpful way to cut down on health insurance costs isto take advantage of potential tax breaks available to smallbusiness owners. All of the financial contributions that employersmake to their employees' premiums are tax-deductible, andemployees' financial contributions are made pre-tax, which willsuccessfully decrease a small business' payroll taxes.

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Additionally, if your small business consists of fewer than 25employees, you may be eligible for tax credits if the averageyearly income for your employees is below $53,000. It is alsobeneficial to note that for small business owners, the biggestdriver on insurance cost will be the type of plan chosen inaddition to the average age of your employees. Your employees'health is not a relevant factor.

5. Utilize digital resources

You don't have to be an insurance industry expert to shop formedical plans. There are resources and tools available that makebuying medical plans as easy as purchasing a plane ticket or buyinga pair of shoes online – Simple, transparent. Insurance is a verycomplex industry that can easily be simplified with the use of theadvanced technology and design of online marketplaces. Theseplatforms are great tools for small business owners to compareprices and benefits of different plans side-by-side. Be confidentwhile shopping for insurance because all of the information is laidout on the table. Technological solutions such as digitalmarketplaces serve as useful tools to modernize the insuranceshopping process and ensure that you and your team are coveredwithout going over your budget.


More great open-enrollment reads:


Sally Poblete has been aleader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, shefounded Wellthie out of a deep passion for makinghealth insurance more simple and approachable for consumers andsmall businesses. She had a successful career leading productdevelopment at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the nation'slargest health insurance companies.

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