Though the employer mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act have been delayed, health care insurance costs, taxes and fees are expected to continue to climb. Postponing your decision to provide health care insurance could prove to be very costly for your business.
If you’re not sure where to start your search, here are four options to consider.
1. Don’t offer health insurance to your employees
Under health care reform, you don’t have to offer health insurance to your employees. However, if you have 50 employees or more (as defined by health care reform), you will be subject to the “Play or Pay” rules, which means you will need to either (a) offer qualifying health insurance to your employees (play), or (b) face a possible penalty (pay). If you have fewer than 50 employees, you are not subject to the Play or Pay rules, so there is no penalty for not offering health insurance. Employees will be able to purchase health insurance on their own through the state exchanges.
While not offering insurance relieves you of the cost and responsibilities associated with providing health insurance for your employees, it may also leave your business at a disadvantage.
Health insurance is a big draw for employees, so if your company is competing with companies that offer good health insurance, you may have trouble recruiting and retaining top prospects.
2. Shop for group health insurance yourself
Of course, you can shop for your own group health insurance. Health care reform is even designed to make that easier with the implementation of the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. Much like the state exchanges for individuals, SHOP is an online marketplace where small business owners or their insurance brokers will be able to compare and buy various health plans for their companies. Note that for 2014, the SHOP in your state may have limited coverage options available.
3. Use a health insurance broker
Health insurance brokers specialize in finding insurance for companies. They will typically work with multiple insurance carriers, and provide you with informed recommendations on plans available from those carriers that best meet your needs.
Their expertise can help you through the decision process, but be aware that they often receive commissions from the insurance company they’re recommending. In choosing a broker, you may want to ask how he or she is compensated. You can also ask for references and check for disciplinary records by calling your state insurance commissioner’s consumer hotline.
4. Use an HR outsourcing company (such as a PEO or Professional Employer Organization)
With PEOs, you get a whole suite of HR services, and your employees will get access to a variety of health insurance options, often through a group health plan sponsored by the PEO.
In addition to a variety of health insurance options, your employees will typically have access to other benefits through a PEO arrangement, including a flexible spending account, retirement plan, and life and disability insurance. PEOs also handle payroll and employment administration, employee training, worker’s compensation, compliance and liability management, and more.
To find out more about what a PEO can do for your company, visit Insperity.