By Sally Poblete
It’s no secret that small business owners care about their employees — they are like family. Making sure employees stay healthy is a priority for most business owners. One important way to promote employees’ health is to provide health insurance, but many small business owners may think doing so is out of reach for them due to the cost and complexity.
Small business owners do have a unique set of pain points in offering health insurance, including costs and administrative tasks. Here are several reasons why providing health insurance is important for small businesses, despite the challenges.
Why is offering coverage important?
Small business owners want to provide health insurance to employees. In fact, 40% of small business owners consider it a moral responsibility to offer coverage. Many of them are concerned that employees would not otherwise be able to afford a health insurance plan.
Moreover, offering health insurance is an effective way to attract and retain talent. Health benefits continue to be a main reason that employees choose a particular job, and 60% of employees say that they would stay at their job if they were happy with the benefits provided. Small businesses especially have limited time and resources, so incentivizing the right candidates is an effective business strategy to maintain profit margins and reduce turnover.
In addition, providing health insurance means that employees will have better access to healthcare resources allowing them to take advantage of different types of care to stay healthy. Employees who are healthy are also more productive, which is better for everyone in the workplace.
Costs are often a barrier, but there are ways to mitigate them
Nearly 80% of small business owners worry about the cost of providing health insurance to employees. According to 62% of them, a premium increase of 15% or more would make group coverage unaffordable. However, there are a number of ways small businesses can keep costs down.
Business owners can use online marketplaces to compare prices and benefits of different plans side-by-side. There are a breadth of choices available, including bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans, which all differ in terms of out of pocket costs, as well as their monthly premium. Exploring various networks of providers covered by a plan can result in lower price points. In addition, business owners can decide how much they want to contribute to employees’ monthly premiums depending on what is right for their business. Typically, this ranges from covering the total cost to covering half of the cost.
Small business owners should also keep in mind the tax advantages they would receive by offering health insurance. Employer contributions to premiums are tax deductible, and employee contributions are made pre-tax, lowering a small business’ payroll taxes. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees may also qualify for tax credits if the average annual income of employees is under $53,000.
Providing health insurance is an important step small businesses can take to not only attract and retain employees, but to make sure they stay healthy. While many small business owners may think they can’t afford health insurance, it is worth investigating creative solutions. There are great ways for small businesses to offer health benefits and take care of their most important asset — their employees.