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Plan Now for Your Small Business Health Insurance Costs

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affordable small business health insuranceThe health care landscape is in flux. Some health reforms have already been implemented, while most don’t go into effect until 2014. But businesses shouldn’t wait to take action. In order to provide affordable health insurance for your employees, it’s best to begin planning now for how these changes might impact your company.

“There are going to be specific requirements and mandates,” says Steve Freeman, president of insurance and financial services firm USI.  “Have a plan, know what your core values are on offering benefits to your employees and know where you want to be versus your competition on compensation and benefits. Make sure your plan is in compliance for what you need to be doing now, and make sure you’re going to be ready for 2014.”

Freeman offers some direction on assessing current guidelines and preparing for upcoming changes.

Effective as of Sept. 23, 2010 –

– Plans can no longer issue lifetime limitations or place unreasonable annual limits on essential benefits.

– Employers must offer coverage for employees’ children up to age 26.

– Insurance companies can’t exclude coverage for individuals under the age of 19 with pre-existing conditions.

Effective as of January 1, 2011 –

Flexible spending accounts can no longer be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription.

Starting in 2014 –

– Employers will be mandated to provide health care coverage if they have more than 50 employees, or they’ll face a monetary penalty. However, with a relatively low penalty, many businesses may choose to pay the penalty rather than provide health benefits to employees

– Individuals will be mandated to have health insurance, or they’ll face a monetary penalty

Offering small business health insurance is a great way to retain employees and stay competitive in your market, and considering the changes already in effect as well as those to come will better position your business to succeed in the future. As Freeman notes, “businesses need to act now, as failing to address the impact this will have on your company will put you at a distinct disadvantage come 2014.”

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