8 Things to Consider When Researching Health Insurance Providers

As a business owner, the decision to offer health care benefits to your employees is not one to be taken lightly. “Medical insurance can be confusing,” says Michael Silverman, owner of New York-based Gloron Agency Inc. It is an expensive undertaking with myriad options. Here are 8 things you should consider:

1. Your budget. Insurance plans are one of the most expensive line items for a business. “It’s a very expensive proposition,” Silverman says.

2. Your options. Silverman advises that you seek an independent insurance advisor who will help you select the right provider. A professional who is well versed in the industry will be able to help you make an informed decision.

3. Your customer service needs. Make sure your insurance representative has staff members who can answer your questions if he or she is not available. For example, Silverman has four employees who work exclusively on group benefits.

4. Your goals. Approach the selection process with clear goals in mind. Understand your options and have a definitive idea of the type of coverage you would like to provide your employees.

5. Your network. Most people want a plan that keeps their doctors in network, Silverman says. When Silverman’s agency works with a client, employees are asked to provide the names of the three doctors they want most in network. “Then every doctor is contacted and asked what plans they are in,” he says. With that information, he can provide the client with options that best serve the employees.

6. Your employees’ needs. Don’t assume HMOs are the best option. “What about an out-of-state traveling salesman?” Silverman asks. “It can be a good thing or a dangerous thing. If you are using a doctor out of network, there is no coverage.”

7. Your priorities. The three main issues that affect premiums are co-pays, deductibles and prescription drug cards. As a client, you will need to assess your priorities. Do you want a higher co-pay so that you can keep the deductibles manageable? Do you want prescription drug cards with a lower cost? Silverman likens it piecing together a puzzle: you have to find the configuration that “fits” your company.

8. Your location. Every state has different rules. For example, the definition of “dependents” varies widely, with some states recognizing domestic partnerships, and others only married couples.

Taking time to research and select the right health insurance provider will pay great dividends to both your business and staff. Your employees drive your bottom line, and taking care of their health and well-being is paramount to your success.