Rising Health Care Costs Put Pressure on Small Businesses

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Voluntary products and benefits communications can provide relief

Double-digit health insurance cost increases affect all business owners no matter the size of their company — but smaller businesses feel more pressure because they typically don’t have as many benefits options available to them as large companies. Yet you need to offer a competitive benefits package to compete with larger companies for qualified employees.

Voluntary benefits offered at the worksite can help small businesses lessen benefits program management pressures by providing much-needed solutions: voluntary products to help employees fill gaps in their core benefits and benefits communications to help employees better understand their benefits and the value of what you provide them.

Voluntary products expand the benefits program

We’re seeing larger numbers of small business employers putting in high deductible health plans, and some are even adopting consumer-driven health care plans. Either way, employees are taking on more responsibility for their health care expenses. Voluntary benefits can help you better manage your benefits program costs and help provide employees with coverage choices to meet their out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Adding a supplemental health insurance product and other voluntary benefits such as life insurance, cancer insurance and short-term disability can expand your benefits program. For example, if you have a high-deductible health plan, employees could choose a supplemental health insurance product to help pay for their additional out-of-pocket expenses.

With voluntary benefits, you can pay a portion or all of the premiums for the voluntary benefits or let employees pay for the additional benefits themselves.

Benefits communications helps employees understand and appreciate their benefits

Small businesses typically have little to no human resources staff, which means the business owner often handles HR duties in addition to all the other responsibilities. In many cases, you don’t have the time and resources to fully communicate your benefits program. Yet employees who understand the benefits they have and the value of what their employer provides appreciate their company more. A Colonial Life poll conducted by Harris Interactive showed that 82 percent of workers who rated their employee benefits education highly also rated their employer an excellent or very good place to work. Conversely, only 27 percent of workers who rated their employee benefits education as fair or poor said their employer was an excellent or very good place to work.1

Having a voluntary benefits partner who can communicate your benefits program — both core and voluntary benefits — and help employees make educated coverage decisions can help take the load off of you. Find a voluntary benefits partner who’s experienced in conducting one-on-one benefits communication sessions and who’s willing to provide this valuable service at no cost. Many larger companies have staff or outside partners to help them with benefits communications and enrollments. But by partnering with a quality voluntary benefits provider, you can take advantage of these services in your own company at no additional expense. It’s a huge competitive advantage.

Voluntary benefits can help you relieve some of the pressure from increasing health insurance costs yet still remain competitive in the marketplace. The benefit to you is an enhanced benefits program, savings in program costs, quality benefits communications and an effective enrollment process. Your employees will benefit from having more coverage choices to meet their needs, plus they’ll understand and appreciate the value of what you provide for them.

1  Harris Interactive, “Employee Education and Enrollment survey,” Jan. 2012, prepared for Colonial Life.

About the author

Matt Hickman is a Broker Development Partner and Benefits Advisor for The Meehan Agency.

The Meehan Agency is a market leader in providing benefits communication and enrollment solutions for group health brokers and their clients. The agency’s employee benefits services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support thousands of businesses and organizations, representing tens of thousands of America’s workers and their families.

For more information contact The Meehan Agency at +1.866.ENROLL.0, visit themeehanagency.com or connect with the agency at www.facebook.com/makebenefitscount/ or www.linkedin.com/company/make-benefits-count/.

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