The Open Enrollment period, during which individuals and business owners can purchase health insurance plans, does not officially begin until November 15. However, it’s already September, and making an informed decision about group health insurance means you need to begin researching your options now. Keep these four tips in mind as you get ready for Open Enrollment.
1) Evaluate your health insurance options. In recent years, many small businesses have seen increases in their health insurance premiums. Rather than risking a surprise and a scramble for solutions in November, start researching your options now. Know the law and what you’re required to provide to employees. If your business employs fewer than 50 full-time employees, you aren’t required to provide health insurance, even though doing so is often a great way to attract and retain the best workers. Research your eligibility for tax credits and discuss the advantages with your accountant.
2) Research creative strategies. Even if you aren’t required to provide employees with health insurance, it’s often a good idea to do so. Offering this benefit will help you retain good workers, and you may reap the benefits of a tax credit at the same time. But some small business owners find that they still cannot afford a group health insurance policy. This doesn’t mean you can’t help your employees with health insurance, though. Some employers are offering a stipend to help employees purchase their own insurance on the individual exchange, for example. Be aware of all your options, and the impact of each one upon your bottom line, before November.
3) Contact your insurance agent. Ask whether your current health insurance policy, if you have one, is scheduled for automatic renewal. If you’re happy with the policy, you may not need to do anything. Ask about changes to the policy so you can make an informed decision about keeping it or trading up.
4) Communicate with employees. If your employees will be purchasing their own health insurance policies, educate them on the different levels of plans available. Remind them that they cannot be turned down due to pre-existing conditions, and make sure they understand the tax credits for which they may be eligible. If you’re making changes to a group health insurance policy, be sure to communicate these changes to employees well in advance so that there are no unpleasant surprises.