2/23/2010

Making health insurance cheaper for small businesses

Health insurance spendings account for a large part of business activity costs, and their share is especially large with small businesses and home-based enterprises. And with the continuous trends in rates increase it's getting harder and harder for small enterprises to carry this burden, causing many small businesses to drop health coverage benefits altogether.

A recent study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in New York has concluded that small businesses tend to pay 18% more for health insurance than their larger counterparts all across the country. That's because large enterprises have a better negotiating power due to larger numbers of workers to be insured. Having that in mind, being despaired about the thing won't help your small business much. About 60% of 46 million people in the US who have no health insurance coverage are employed by small enterprises and these numbers keep on growing. Such tendencies are no good news for small businesses, because qualified and better workers tend to pay much attention to health benefits at the enterprise and not having them lowers your chance of attracting workers who will help develop your business better.

In order to cope with the Catch 22 situation here, you have to learn how to minimize your healthcare costs and provide your employees with the benefits they deserve. Here are some tips on how to get exactly what you need:

1. Keep the workers healthy. Instead of fighting the consequences and paying for costly medical coverage, you can invest into your workers' health and promote different wellness programs at your business. Introduce regular screenings, check-ups and promote a healthy lifestyle by offering your employees free gym sessions or other benefits. It's much easier to prevent a disease rather than treat it.

2. Lower the coverage. Larger coverage amounts lead to higher premiums and a logical solution for this would be lowering the coverage. You can also ask your employees to partially contribute to the premiums if they want to keep the initial coverage amounts. Of course, this would be quite unpopular among your employees but if your small business insurance plan is in question you have to consider going with such unpopular measures.

3. Think about HSAs. Health savings accounts are gaining popularity amongst small business owners as they provide more flexibility and tax benefits than typical health insurance options. HSAs combine high-deductible health insurance plans with tax-free savings accounts, making the premiums you have to pay lower, and providing more saving options to your employees. And the fact that all withdrawals are tax-free makes it a great option for those who want to get great small business insurance health coverage without constraining the enterprise's budget.

4. Team up with other small businesses. You can join an association or buying union who other local small businesses in order to gain better rates. Such associations provide small enterprises the bargain power of big companies because when combined, such groups have a large number of employees to be insured which eventually leads to more competitive premiums compared to going off alone. Member fees are usually quite low with such groups while the benefits are great, so think about joining one of you have in your area. This might give you good rates on other forms of small business insurance as well.



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