Finding affordable health insurance is a big concern for the self-employed and small business owners. There are so many plans and service available that it is hard to make a good choice. To add to the problem, there are many cheap plans advertised for those seeking affordable insurance, but they rarely offer all the coverage you need.
Healthcare is a big deal. For many small businesses, healthcare is the most expensive budget item. Vital investments in marketing and research are sometimes pushed aside just to pay for the ever-rising cost of health insurance. To be sure you are getting a insurance that is both affordable and offers good coverage, you will need to do some research first.
Researching health insurance coverage is not as hard as it may sound. One only needs to take a few preliminary steps and then compare policies after weeding out the undesirable ones. This is a big purchase, so you will want to arm yourself with the best information available and know that you are getting the best coverage you can within your budget.
Find a Broker or Agent
Many business owners go running straight to a large insurer, not realizing they can get insurance more affordably through an agent or broker. Because agents and brokers place a lot of business with insurers, they get a bulk rate, unlike the lonely sole owner of a business.
The first step is to look for some health insurance agents and brokers in your area. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of at least three companies and begin calling to ask some questions. Check credentials and licensing to be sure you are doing business with competent people. Your time and effort will be rewarded with lower insurance premiums and a dependable insurance policy.
Make sure you ask if the company is an independent agent or a broker. Find out if the company is under contract for any specific plan or insurance company. Some agencies will have agreements with several insurers, which will give you a good variety from which to choose. To be sure you can shop around and get the best deal, avoid agencies that only write for one company.
Look for Convenience
You should also find out about websites the potential insurance companies and the agent or broker may run. You want to ensure they are using the latest technology to make managing the health plan easy, saving you time to work on your business.
Narrow down your options by health insurance policies that are affordable, provide good coverage and have reasonable
rates. You can then go about getting some quotes.
When securing your health insurance quotes, make sure you get prices from at least three different brokers or agents. Let them know they are competing against each other so they will work hard to get you the best quote. Only when you have three quotes should you make a decision.
Pick a Good Policy
It is important to talk about what good coverage means. If you are only buying insurance as a self-employed individual, you may be willing to shoulder the cost of regular doctor visits and smaller medical needs and only purchase insurance that covers serious illnesses. This will not work if you have employees. Most employees expect to have insurance that pays for all services, less a small copayment. Because more businesses are asking for contribution towards premium from employees, you should be able to make the insurance more affordable by sharing the cost with your workers.
What to Look For
Be careful to choose your insurance policy based on the plan as a whole, not just cost. Go over coverage carefully, reviewing deductibles, coverage limits and the total yearly cost of the premium before you enter into any agreement. Look for some basic requirements, like the insurance company’s rating with AM Best, Moody’s or Weiss. Be sure the limit on lifetime payouts is at least $1 Million. Check that there is a Renewable Provision, ensuring your policy cannot be cancelled or non-renewed as long as you keep paying the premium.
You have probably heard the term “pre-existing condition.” This means that the health insurer will only pay for treatment for new illnesses, not conditions that were present when you bought the policy. This is a common reason for denying claims among all sorts of insurance policies, but it only causes problems in health insurance. While health insurers can no longer deny services for a pre-existing condition, they can institute a waiting period before they will pay for services. Be sure this waiting period is not more than one year.
Take a moment to read the definition of “Emergency Services” and find out what situations must be approved by your primary care physician before you can get treatment. Be sure emergencies are covered without going through your regular doctor first.
When you take the time to ensure you are getting the best policy for your money and for your employees’ contributions, you help yourself and your business. Finding good, affordable health insurance for your employees ensures you can retain the staff you have worked so hard to train.