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Small Businesses -- Here is an Easy Way to Help Your Employees Obtain Useful Information on the Health Insurance Market

Businesses with more than 50 employees are required under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) to provide their employees with health insurance. Small business - those with fewer than 50 employees - are not. (Note: At present the cut-off figure is 100 employees, but that number will fall to 50 beginning in 2016, meaning that businesses with between 50 and 100 employees who do not presently provide insurance for their employees need to begin planning now). Even if as a business owner you are not required to provide coverage for your employees, there are a number of reasons why you might want to. You may find it easier to hire and retain the high quality and dependable employees that your business requires if you offer insurance. You may find that employee productivity increases and work absences decrease with reliable health care. (I have discussed some of these factors and have described strategies for small businesses that choose to obtain coverage in earlier blog posts: Health Insurance for Small Businesses, July 18, 2015, and Group Health Insurance for Small Businesses, July 8, 2015).

However, you may have elected not to provide health insurance to your employees through your business. You, too, will have your reasons. Cost is probably the leading factor. Businesses that provide group policies for their employees must commit to pay at least fifty percent of the premium cost of the coverage. That can be a huge number for a small business struggling to make its mark in a tough economy. And there are other factors. To name a few: administrative requirements, radically differing health needs among your staff, some employees (especially younger, healthier ones) may prefer a higher salary over benefits such as health coverage, and the unpredictability of costs over the long term.

If you have made the decision not to provide health insurance to your employees, you may still be able to provide them with a helpful service - at no cost to you or to them. As you know, under the individual mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act, all persons are required to obtain health insurance. (There are exceptions for very low income persons). Therefore if an employee is not insured through his employer, the employee must purchase health insurance for himself. This can be a very daunting prospect for some employees. The health insurance market can be very confusing. There are many policy options and an imposing number of factors for an employee to consider: Does an HMO or a PPO better suit my needs? Can I include family members? What coverages do I need and what are unnecessary? Is it smarter for me to purchase a high deductible, low premium product, or vice versa? What about copays and coinsurance? Should I get vision or dental coverage? Are they even available? How do I compare insurance policies? And very importantly - am I eligible for premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and if so, how do I qualify?

Some of your employees may be able to navigate through these questions on their own. But some will need assistance. Pfeifer Insurance Brokers has a thorough knowledge of the individual insurance market and can offer your employees a unique service. Put us in touch with your uninsured employees. We can discuss their situation with them, suggest some options, and hopefully come up with an insurance program that is right for the employee, and where relevant, his or her family. And if the employee is entitled to premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, we will help with that as well. There will be no charge to you or to your employees.

Call to discuss how Pfeifer Insurance Brokers can be of assistance to your employees. Or suggest to your employees that they call us directly.

Alex Pfeifer
Pfeifer Insurance Brokers

650 762-8070

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