Part I of this series (in the April 15 issue) discussed some key facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It posed some questions small businesses, like medical practices, should ask in deciding their future path to providing benefits, especially health insurance. We saw a chart showing the amount of premium subsidies that will be available beginning in 2014.
Upon seeing that chart, you may ask: Does it make sense to cancel your group health plan if you are one of the approximately 50 percent of small businesses that still provides one? Should you let your employees get their insurance, and possible subsidies, on the public exchange or maintain the status quo?
Here are some things to consider.
First, most practices will want to do the math, based on their group demographics and finances, to determine what works best for them. This will require using a new calculator called an ACA impact analysis tool.
Only by using a comprehensive, fully integrated calculator can a business determine the best financial path now and in the future for each employee – and the business as a whole. A comprehensive calculator will allow employers to perform “what-if” scenarios and identify alternative strategies to their employee total rewards program.
The second key factor to consider is your practice’s approach to compensation, benefits and total rewards. What do your business goals demand? What does your market require? How can you continue to attract and retain the best employees with a comprehensive rewards package? Interestingly, the ehealth survey mentioned in Part I last issue also revealed 68 percent of small businesses said they have no plans to drop their insurance benefit.
Change brings opportunity
Small businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the new employee benefits/compensation paradigm. You can succeed by utilizing the best available technology with all supporting products and services – employer decision support tools, calculators and impact analysis predictors.
Provide employees with the tools they need to help them access the right insurance products. Then, offer a dashboard to also help them manage their benefits, understand their coverages, find wellness information, as well as health care advocates to identify low cost, high outcome providers. Give them the ability to easily track deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, as well as health savings account and flexible spending account balance information. Let them pay providers and access their electronic medical records all in one spot.
From a coverage standpoint, the small employers’ options have increased as well. The calculator will help determine which ones are best for your situation.
In the mix will be Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare supplements, public exchanges (marketplaces) with and without subsidy money, private exchanges (comprehensive marketplaces) with a defined contribution approach to funding plans, as well as traditional health offerings.
Partnering with experienced and trusted advisors who have the appropriate tools is the key to accomplishing your business goals in the new employee benefits world. Contact B. Michael Haffey, CLU, at the ISMA Insurance Agency for assistance with employee benefits.