Do Due Diligence on Health Plans
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) offers consumer information on health plans. NCQA lets you search by plan name to find out its ranking. If you want to evaluate a hospital, the best source is the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. You may find the language and format of its reports difficult to understand, but you should get an idea of the kinds of inquiries to make.
Consider Providing PPOs
You should provide the option of preferred provider organizations (PPOs) to employees. Often they don´t mind paying deductibles and slightly higher premiums in exchange for greater physician choices and flexibility. PPOs cover visits to designated healthcare providers, but they also pay for services rendered by health-care providers that aren’t part of the PPO network.
Let Employees Choose Their Health Care
Allowing employees to choose between a health maintenance organization (HMO) and a preferred provider organization (PPO) gives them the freedom to pick the plan that best suits their needs. It also shows them that you care enough about their individual situations to provide them with two different health insurance options.
Pay a Reasonable Percentage of Employees’ Health Insurance
On average, small businesses pay 75 percent to 100 percent of the total insurance cost for their employees and 0 percent to 50 percent of the cost for an employee’s dependents. You can ask employees to pay more than 25 percent, but think carefully before you do. Many states have laws dictating the amount an employee pays for an employer-provided insurance plan. A local insurance provider or broker can help you with rates and regulations.
Pool Your Resources for Affordable Health Care
Try purchasing alliances and association plans, which are alternatives to traditional group health insurance. Health purchasing alliances, also called purchasing pools, are private, nonprofit organizations that bring small businesses together to buy health insurance as a group. Pools are in a good position to negotiate premium rates with insurers because more people are purchasing insurance, which brings down the risk to the insurance company.
Learn the Facts about COBRA
COBRA is a federal law intended to help employees who lose their health benefits after being terminated from their job. COBRA generally requires that group health plans at companies with more than 20 employees must make available continuing health coverage to ex-employees under certain circumstances. The continuation coverage is payable by the ex-employee. Coverage can continue for 18 to 36 months, depending on the factual circumstances.