Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

The responsibilities of small business owners are practically endless. This is why an important key skill for them is prioritization. Something that should be at the top of the list for many small business owners is securing affordable healthcare for their employees.

When you enter talks with a health insurance broker you’d expect them to tell you everything they could, and that would be the right way to think. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Here are the three things that the broker could be lying about.

  1. They Don’t Give You All Your Options

Additional health insurance options are presented through the individual marketplace, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) and small-group health plans. The reason that the broker might be hiding this from you could be because they don’t have access to them or are only operating on the single market. There are also some providers that just favor certain options and will act like there are no other choices.

There are many health insurance brokers who have a sole focus on traditional group plans. Such a broker would not be able to offer you SHOP exchange plans that can come with subsidies, nor would they be able to offer individual-market solutions with even better subsidies provided courtesy of the Affordable Care Act. Brokers could also find themselves limited to offering plans from a select group of companies, which means you’re missing out on potentially dozens of other plans.

You should always keep up to date with the best health insurance policy choices available even if you’ve already got yourself an agent or broker. You owe it to yourself and your employees to know what benefits could be reaped from group insurance and individual plans. Find out all your options from your broker or move on to a different broker who isn’t hiding anything.

  1. They Say They Have Limited Services

Can you remember the last time your broker contacted you? Almost every industry has some form of the “write and run” approach where you are sold the service and then not treated to great support or follow-up care. Health insurance isn’t an exception to this. Your insurance broker should be treated how you would treat any service provider.

The broker needs be a strategic partner for you. They should be there to help as you determine the health benefits, acquire talent, retain them, and the cost and coverage. A broker with a focus on smaller business is a good choice. Find one that understands that you need a continued service and will be willing to help assist your employees. Your employees, and you yourself, deserve to be treated to open communication. Your broker should also be there to help you understand what they offer and how you can make the right choice.

  1. They Say You Could be Risking a Large Fine

We’re serious when we say that if you don’t make the right move you could find yourself fined $100 per employee per day. If you choose to offer funding and help employees pay for their own individual insurance rather than offering them a group plan then a recent ruling by the IRS could mean you end up in a lot of hot water.

You should also be careful if you have over 50 full-time equivalents (FTEs). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) means that you could find yourself being penalised or not providing proper group coverage. The ACA contains employer mandates that say larger companies (classed as any small business with over FTE employees) should offer health insurance to at least 95% of those employees and their dependents.

There are some other requirements in the ACA too. It also mandates that the coverage has to be affordable, which means that the employee cannot be paying more than 9.5% of their income for the plan. There also needs to be a minimum value to the plan as well, which is equivalent to the minimum essential-coverage and cost-sharing amount for bronze plans (60%). You need to be keeping track of a lot of things so find a broker who can help you stay on top of everything and avoid a hefty fine.

What Now?

Every small business owner deserves to have a communicative and knowledgeable broker. The broker is going to be working for you and as such they should give you all the guidance necessary to keep your business running properly. If you feel that you’re getting less than the best it could be time to find a new broker.

The following are some important questions you can ask potential agents and brokers to find out how well they can fit your company and your needs:

  • How long have you been in the business of selling health insurance?
  • Do you specialise in any particular marketplaces and locations?
  • Which carriers do you have access to?
  • How often can I expect to hear from you?
  • How much support can I expect when it comes to properly filling out paperwork to avoid penalties?
  • Do you have any other plans you haven’t shown me?

Talk to your broker about their experience and knowledge of marketplaces. You could find yourself surprised by what the broker is hiding from you. Employers, and their employees, deserve better.

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