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5 Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask Before Selecting Health Insurance

As anyone who’s ever run a business knows, being in charge of your own shop is a profound pleasure but also a giant responsibility. Among the most daunting of its challenges: choosing the right health insurance. Who wants to spend hours comparing rates and coverage for plan after plan? But protecting your employees and your bottom line doesn’t have to be a hassle. You just have to know the right questions to ask.

Pay now or pay later?

Health insurance costs often involve a trade-off: the lower the premium, the higher your out-of-pocket expenses (such as copayments, coinsurance or deductibles) and vice versa. That’s why it’s advisable to consider the needs of your employees. If they’re predominantly a young and healthy bunch, for example, they probably won’t need that much health care – which means they, hopefully, won’t be digging into their pockets too often for copays and other expenses. In that case, you may want to opt for a plan that charges lower premiums and higher deductibles. A larger, more diverse workforce may have different needs.

Do I think local, global or in between?

A health plan’s provider network determines which primary care and specialist providers your employees can see, and which hospitals and other facilities they can use. But remember: in health care, like in business, it’s often all about location, location, location. We may all be part of a global, interconnected economy now, but when it comes to choosing and trusting our physicians and caregivers, we tend to still think very locally and select people who are part of our community. This is one reason a narrow network plan can be a good fit. This kind of plan offers access to a carefully curated community of physicians, caregivers and facilities, and as a result, comes with a more modest price tag. If you have the option of a well-designed narrow network plan, you may decide there’s no need to pay more for options your employees aren’t likely to use.

What drugs are on the formulary?

A formulary is the list of prescription drugs covered by a particular insurance plan. When reviewing which drugs are covered by your plan, it’s a good idea to consider the breadth of drugs covered. Different plans from different providers may cover different drugs, and the formulary can impact your employees’ satisfaction with the health insurance plan you choose.

Is customer service available, helpful and hassle-free?

At some point, it’s very likely that you and your employees will have to reach out to your insurance carrier about some issue or other. The right company will give you rapid access to attentive and knowledgeable representatives, and dedicated service people who can help you with whatever billing issues or other questions you might have. At least one carrier in the New York area even provides concierge-style services, like helping you make your doctor appointments. It’s also helpful if your insurance provider works closely with the doctors and hospitals you need, so that it can help you manage your care and other benefits. If you want an indication of how good a carrier’s customer service is, call with a question before you settle on the company. If the person on the other end picks up quickly and is courteous and helpful, chances are, you’ve got a match.

Is it a keeper?

Let’s face it: switching insurance plans is a hassle, so you’d prefer to stick with the same company year after year. But sometimes, rising rates and other factors force you to make a change. If that’s the case, before selecting a new insurance carrier, look at its rates over the past few years. The fact is, everyone raises prices periodically. But some companies work hard to make sure they offer competitive plans for affordable rates year after year. A little research can uncover those with a record of relatively stable rates.

As in most things in life, knowledge is power, and being familiar with various insurance plans and what they offer can be a real benefit to making the best decision. Take a few minutes and check out our plans and features, see which one works best for your business, and even compare their costs to your current plan using our cost calculator.

* Estimates are based on a comparison between publicly available rates and CareConnect offerings.