Stephanie Dwilson

Can You Afford to Provide Health Insurance to Employees?

Offering health insurance to employees is usually considered a straightforward and effective way to make them healthier. But health benefits are more than just that, and it’s no exaggeration to say that providing health insurance for employees is too important to not consider.

But can you afford it? Here’s how — and why — to try to make the investment happen.

Where You’ll See a Return on Investment

According to Deft Research‘s 2018 Group Benefit Decision-Makers Study, 60 percent of employers cited affordability as “very important” when deciding to offer health insurance. Amid never-ending anxiety about the bottom line, this concern makes sense. In reality, though, businesses can see financial returns from offering health insurance that make the investment worthwhile in the long run. Here are a few of the positive changes employer-sponsored health insurance can bring to your business:

  • Increased productivity. When employees can afford to be more proactive about their health by getting immunizations and other preventive services, they’ll be healthier overall — which means fewer projects slowed down by a flurry of sick days around the office every time one employee catches a cold. When employees do feel sick, they’ll turn to a doctor instead of debating whether or not they can afford the trip. They’ll also be better equipped to take care of chronic health issues that, left alone, could result in larger problems later on. All of this adds up to a healthier, more energetic workforce that could boast new highs of engagement and productivity.
  • Improved morale. When you show your employees that you care about their health, they know that they’re more than a number to you. Every member of your workforce has their own problems — health, financial or otherwise — and your help with even one of them can bring on a wave of goodwill. Their confidence in you as an employer will boost the morale of the entire workforce. Simply put, if you invest in them, they’ll invest in you.
  • More successful recruitment. According to the Deft study, millennials — the generation quickly overtaking the workforce — consider medical benefits to be more important than retirement or other financial benefits. Health insurance appeals to more than just one segment of the working population, though. Multiple studies have found that if offered, over half of employees (across generations) would take more benefits over a pay raise. That means when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, a good health plan can be the best tool you have.

How to Make Health Plans More Affordable

When you’re budgeting for health care, try to quantify how much money a healthy workforce could save you. For example, replacing a salaried employee costs a full third of their yearly pay, while absenteeism — often attributed in large part to health problems — can cost about $2,650 per salaried employee every year. Compare these expenses against the costs of various health plans, and you should have a clear picture of just how much you can spend on health benefits and still see your business win financially. Look at plans that are likely to fit your budget — health savings accounts, for instance, can reduce costs when used with a high-deductible plan, as might joining a small group health insurance plan.

Once you have a number and possible plan ideas in mind, it’s time to bring in a broker or health care agent. Deft Research found that some of the most popular services agents provided were recommending ways to cut costs, providing expense reports and educating employees on offerings. The same report also found that employers may be more likely to be satisfied with their health insurer if they use an agent.

If you can’t afford the level of insurance you want, consider getting creative. You might be able to make a deal with a nearby gym to get discounted memberships for your staff, for example, or you can offer an extra 30 minutes at lunch for employees who want to work out. Bring healthy snack alternatives into the workplace and give your employees free time off to see the doctor or go to clinics. All of this can supplement your insurance offerings, keep your employees healthier and show that you’re committed to their physical and mental well-being — without incurring a huge financial strain.

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Offering health insurance to employees isn’t just a nice thing to do. It’s an investment that can bring new levels of success to your business. So carefully consider it — you can’t afford not to.

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