Health insurance is challenging for so many reasons, and tends to become even more so as your business grows. And then there’s always the changing health care laws just to spice things up a bit. As if that wasn’t enough fun already, the renewal of health insurance sits on most calendars during the already busy holiday season.
That means if your business runs on a calendar fiscal year, your insurance renewal falls at the same time your team is already burdened with year-end accounting, budgeting and forecasting for the upcoming year, along with a myriad of other year-end tasks.
Here are a couple of simple second stage secrets that are likely to save you both time and money when it comes to health insurance:
1) Move your health insurance renewal to the “off-season”.
We managed the year-end dance for years before the “aha” moment that our health insurance renewal period could be moved. Our insurance agent and internal team were both happy and relieved to move our renewal process to the summer. This gave both parties the opportunity to be more thoughtful and responsive when not burdened by an already jam-packed season. Creating that space is a great thing when you’re talking about a decision that can be one of your largest line items, and which impacts your team on such a personal level.
One note of caution – there is some burden to making the switch, as you’ll have a partial plan year to get everything lined up for the future. However, your benefits agent may be able to swing this in your favor by getting rates extended for the “short” plan year plus the following plan year, potentially saving thousands by delaying inevitable rate increases.
2) Make sure you have an insurance agent who is working for you.
In another “aha” moment, a conversation about the amount of paperwork and compliance we were handling internally lead to the discovery that not all insurance agents are created equal. Some ask you to handle everything when it comes to claims and plan changes; some file paperwork you initiate, some handle everything from beginning to end. The kicker is, your rates are the same no matter which level of service you’re getting.
In addition to handling communication with your insurance provider, full service agents will present selected healthcare options to your team, handle enrollments, provide all the necessary handouts to comply with state and federal laws, as well as prepare your Benefit Summary or Summary Plan Description (SPD) and other required documents. They’ll also advise you as your growth leads to managing new requirements such as COBRA (once you reach 20 people for more than 6 months), and FMLA (50 or more employees for more than 20 workweeks).
Basically, a full service agent takes the hassle out of filing, the worry out of compliance, and does the legwork to find and present the best possible options for your team – leaving more opportunity for you and your team to focus on great products, service, and delivery!