Employee Health Insurance Choices for Your Small Business

Employee health insurance is a key benefit that job seekers are prioritizing. Here are some tips to determine which health plan is best for your business.

Employee health insurance has become a key requirement in the eyes of many job seekers. Business owners who offer a strong health plan often attract top-quality recruits. According to CBS San Francisco Bay Area, a recent Met Life study concludes that more than 50 percent of millennials used benefits as a "determining factor" when looking at potential employers.

If you want to offer health insurance, the next big question is: How? Health insurance is a complex topic, and it can be daunting to tackle. Here are a few ideas for getting started.

Start by Asking Your Peers

Sometimes, the best place to start is also the simplest. Talk to businesses of similar size within your industry, either through your professional organization or other networking groups, and find out how they set up their health insurance and what process they used to make their decision. Your local chamber of commerce may also be able to put you in touch with peers or resources that can help. Some trade and professional organizations even have their own health insurance connections, which may provide a cost-effective option and relieve you of the burden of doing your own search.

Understand Different Options

Many small businesses opt to use a health insurance broker. Brokers work with a number of insurance providers — from which they earn commissions — and can match you with the best option for you based on your industry, size and preferences. They can also help you with the enrollment process, which can be complicated. You can find a broker through the nonprofit National Association of Health Underwriters or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website HealthCare.gov — there, you can plug in your location and get a list of options in your area.

If you want to do your own search and contact health insurance providers directly, make sure you do thorough research about their background and coverage. Look at sites such as Consumer Affairs and the National Committee for Quality Assurance to make sure you're on the right track.

Other options include working through a purchasing alliance, which is an intermediary that puts employers in contact with a package of insurance options, or by finding a health insurance exchange through the ACA website. That way, employees at your company can choose from several options, instead of being automatically covered under the one plan that you have chosen.

Cover all the Details

After you decide which path is best for you, you'll have to gather your paperwork and apply for coverage. Once you're accepted, you then have to explain the plan details to your employees; it's important to get as much information as possible about the plan ahead of time so you can confidently answer all your team's questions.

Regardless of which route you choose to provide coverage, make sure you work with a provider, broker or other resource that can answer any questions in detail. This is complicated stuff, so if your health insurance contact is not able to spell things out for you or provide help when you need it, you may be better off elsewhere.

Exploring health insurance options is difficult, but it makes a massive difference in your ability to recruit and retain good talent. Once you understand the rules of the game, it will pay off for years to come.