Health plans are a common benefit offered by most employers, but that does not mean they are easy to understand or implement. Employers struggle with questions related to this every day. “What do my employees need and expect?”, “How do I know which plan to get?”, “How do I make sure it’s working after I get it?”
These are all great questions, even though they can be difficult. At PaydayHCM, we have more than 30 years of experience answering questions about health insurance plans. Our philosophy is based on taking the complex and making it simple, saving you precious time and money.
The best way to find answers to these questions is simple. Ask. Ask yourself questions to work through them and ask your employees questions to know what they are thinking. We recommend beginning with the question “Why am I offering these benefits?” This is crucial because it will determine how much effort and time you’re willing to put into the task ahead.
1. Decide What Your Goal Is
Is your goal to help your workforce stay healthy? Are your goals employee retention and attracting talent? Whatever your reason, let that guide the choices you make along the way. There will be a lot of options and variations as you are choosing different parts of your plan. For example, the type of plan, whether it’s a PPO, HMO, or EPO. Each works better in a different scenario.
Once you have established your goal, the driving force behind your plan, you can begin the process of surveying your employees to find out their thoughts on the matter.
2. Survey Your Employees to Assess Their Interests and Needs
A survey can help you in several ways. With it, you can gauge interest levels, determine which benefits are most in demand, and who each employee might also need coverage for. It doesn’t have to be long or complex. You can ask a few specific questions and get a good understanding of their needs and interest level. Some examples of questions you can include are:
- Which types of benefits are most important to you?
- Do you have coverage elsewhere?
- Are you interested in organization-sponsored health, dental, or vision plans?
- Have you utilized employer-sponsored plans in the past?
- Do you have family members who need coverage?
3. Contact a Broker to Shop for a Plan
Once you have surveyed your employees and gathered the information you need, you will know whether to proceed with benefits or not. If you decide that moving forward is the right option for your business, then you will need to find an insurance broker. Your broker will help you navigate the complexities of health insurance. To find a reputable broker, try the following:
- Get recommendations from other business owners in your network.
- Search for local brokerage firms that specialize in employee benefits.
- Schedule consults with your top choices to discuss your needs.
In addition, be sure to inquire about their fees and perhaps most importantly, choose a broker you feel comfortable with. You will likely have many questions and need plenty of guidance as you take this on. Find someone who is knowledgeable, approachable, and available when you need them.
4. Establish a Budget with Broker Feedback
After meeting with brokers and finding one you are comfortable with, it’s then time to discuss what kind of a plan you are looking for and what your overall budget will be. Your broker should have a good understanding of your plan design, meaning they will know what you are trying to achieve and what your budget will allow.
Establishing a budget can mean taking several different steps. A few of the more important aspects include reviewing your current spending, assessing benefits needs based on your survey, considering cost-sharing strategies, and projecting future costs in order to determine whether your program will be sustainable.
5. Review the Market Analysis and Plan Comparison
Your next step will be awaiting a market analysis that your broker will prepare for you. This will help you to determine which plans align with your goals and budget. A comprehensive market analysis should include things like a market overview, competitive analysis, market trends, and consumer satisfaction.
This is the point where you will also want to explore how much you and your employees will contribute and make any other adjustments to your calculations to make sure it matches up with your budget and the employee feedback you received.
6. Make Your Final Decision and Education Your Employees
At this point, taking your broker’s advice and research into consideration, you will need to decide on a plan. Following your decision, you will have a period for employees to enroll in the plan, this is called open enrollment. It’s usually a 2 to 4-week period.
Rolling out your new plan to your employees is a crucial part of the process. A proper rollout can include email alerts, presentations, videos, etc. How you go about it is not as important as making sure that all the employees receive the information and that it is easily understandable.
Another important decision you will need to make is how long your employees will have to be working for you before they are allowed to enroll. You should base this on your rate of turnover, among other factors. If you have a high turnover rate or are part of an industry with high turnover, you may want to make new employees wait longer before they can enroll, otherwise, you will be constantly enrolling and disenrolling individuals.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Following these steps will allow you to start a great health plan for your employees. If you’re still wrestling with the idea of healthcare and how to offer it, it is possible to provide benefits your employees will appreciate, no matter the size of your business. The most important aspect of this process though is making sure that your employees’ needs are heard and that each one is well-informed and knowledgeable about how to use their plan. If they are not properly educated, they will become frustrated and your plan to provide a benefit will backfire.
Much of this information has come from more than 30 years of experience helping businesses implement these kinds of benefits programs. PaydayHCM continues to provide expert guidance on benefits plans, payroll, and all of the other business essentials that you may need. Whatever your knowledge level is or wherever you are in the process, we can help.
Be sure to check out our article on 3 Things to Include in a Competitive Benefits Package and learn more about how you can offer incentives that will help you attract and retain your best employees. Or contact us directly if you would like more guidance.