Q: How can I choose the best health care plan for my employees?
A: Although a lot of good advice exists on this topic, each will tell you the same thing: Decide what benefits you want to offer, determine your budget, evaluate providers and ask what is best for your business, including for your employees.
I recommend researching the following organizations: The first is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which outlines the structure of benefit packages, provides direction for communicating health care plans and highlights employee concerns and preferences. The second is the System for Electronic Rates and Forms Filing (SERFF), which was established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and provides access to insurance rates and program design templates. SERFF provides an overview of health care benefit programs, though information varies by state.
I also have two recommendations to add. The first is that employees like to be given choices of coverage within employee plans. Most benefit plans offer products with ranges, for instance from bronze to platinum. Research of major providers shows that virtually no employees choose the low-level bronze plan (0.8%) and few choose the high-level platinum plan (9.1%). Employees are most comfortable with choosing the middle-level plans. However, employees want to have these choices available.
The second recommendation is to understand that while providing health care benefits shows concern for the well-being of employees, it should also show a benefit to your business. A recent SHRM survey shows 56% of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits said health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay in their current job. Findings also indicated that 71% of employees are satisfied with their current employer-provided coverage, but that high costs worry many. These two data points can provide insights about employee satisfaction, hiring and retention. Look to sponsor health-related events, such as wellness challenges, to support teamwork and shared values. Offering health care benefits also has a significant effect in attracting part-time workers, if they are important for your business.
Jack Militello is a professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.