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Help keep your employees by providing group health insurance benefits

Providing health care benefits to your employees is a strategic business decision and one that can help ensure your retention of quality employees. Even if the law in your state does not require that you offer health care benefits to your employees, in today's competitive climate, doing so will help attract new employees as well as helping you retain current employees. In addition to having an edge over the competition by offering group health insurance, you may even find that you qualify for certain tax benefits.

You may be self-employed with a small business, but as long as there are two or more employees within your organization, you are most likely eligible to apply for group insurance. Today, there are a number of options for employers who wish to offer health care benefits to their employees. As with individual plans, employers can offer HMO, PPO, or fee-for-service plans. The rates are based on demographics which include, age, gender, and other factors.


HMO's (Health Maintenance Organizations) require an insured to have a Primary Care physician (PCP), known as a Gatekeeper, who makes referrals to specialists as deemed necessary. The insured must utilize doctors within a network. A flat co-pay ($10 or $20) is required for most doctor visits and in many instances, no deductible is required.


PPO's (Preferred Provider Organizations) are a blend of traditional insurance and HMO. PPO plans are typically more expensive than HMO's and require the insured to see physicians within the network, however, a specialist can be seen without a referral from a PCP. If the insured sees a physician outside of the network, he or she will have to pay higher co-pays or in some instances, the care may not be covered at all. Generally, PPO's provide the most competitive group premium rates.

Traditional Fee for Service

Traditional Fee for Service is one of the least affordable forms of health care coverage, and offers fewer "well-care" services compared to "managed care" plans. The upside is that it has the most flexibility when it comes to choice of doctor and treatment facilities.

When shopping for group coverage, it is important to find a strong company that can meet all of your needs. Often times a small business owner will choose a cheap, "off-the-shelf" health care plan as a matter of economy. However, some of these plans may include contingencies that can negatively impact the type of care received. Providing health care coverage to your employees is an "investment," not just another "expense."

Following are some tips to help make your group health insurance shopping easier:

  • Is the insurer solvent? Be sure to check the insurer's financial ratings with:
  1. Standard and Poors
  2. TheStreet.com
  3. A.M. Best
  • Check to verify the company's and agent's licenses.
  • How old is the company and how long has it been marketing health insurance?
  • What is the company's track record on rate increases? While you can expect rates to go up, they should not be increasing irresponsibly.
  • How quickly are claims processed? Typically, claims should be paid within 30 to 90 days.
  • Does the company offer plan choices to your employees such as cafeteria plans, HSA plans, family plans, etc.
  • Will you have a company agent or representative assigned to you who can quickly resolve any issues that may arise?
  • Will prior medical condition existence criteria or waiting periods be applied?

Group health insurance can be a very powerful incentive to attract quality employees. The payoff for employers is increased productivity and workplace morale, which tends to lead to increased business profits.