With so many health insurance plans available, choosing the right ones can be difficult, particularly for business owners who are facing upcoming ACA requirements in 2016. You want plans that won’t be too expensive, but you also want to provide your employees with plenty of options to meet their health care needs. Here are a few things to think about when you choose your company’s health insurance plans:

  • Self-funded vs. fully-insured. As an employer, you’ll have to decide if you want to offer self-funded or fully insured plans. In a self-funded plan, you assume all the risk and will need to estimate how much that you think you’ll need to spend on employee claims every year. If costs are less than expected, you can keep the difference, and you might purchase stop-loss insurance to cover unexpected emergency claims. With fully-insured plans, you pay premiums to the insurance company, which shoulders the risk of paying claims.
  • High-deductible plans. Some employers choose high-deductible plans so they can save on the cost of monthly premiums. These plans are best for your employees if you combine them with a generous pretax Health Savings Account. The money in the HSA can go toward helping your employees meet their deductibles. These plans are ideal for employees who understand the importance of applying some savings toward their healthcare and are smart health care consumers.
  • Public Exchanges. you may offer coverage via a state or federal based exchange where your employees enroll online. The options on these exchanges may not be as broad as off exchange.
  • Variety of plans through a private exchange. You may want to offer a variety of plans that your employees can choose from. For example, you may offer a high-deductible plan with an HSA, along with one or two PPOs and HMOs. You might also offer a selection from each metal level (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) and vary the percentage of the premium that you pay based on the metal level. For example, you might pay 70 percent of the premium for a bronze plan but only 50 percent of the premium for gold. With a private exchange, insurance companies, brokers or consultants offer special websites specifically for your employees to compare the variety of offered health plans. If this option is important to you, ask your agent which companies provide this feature.
  • Specialty Insurance Plans. Be sure to ask your broker about additional plan types. For example, some employers offer dental insurance, life insurance or accident coverage options. Workplace voluntary plans like accident coverage are 100% employee-paid, so they won’t cost you, the employer, anything additional.
  • Wellness Programs. Many employers give their workers a chance to decrease their premiums by participating in wellness programs. These programs can motivate employees to get in shape and eat better while earning rewards. This can even lead to higher productivity among your workforce when it’s well-implemented.

Remember that your decisions are for just one year. You’ll have the option of changing your health insurance options and deciding whether you want, for example, to be on an exchange a year from now. Because health insurance companies can change their lineup of plans from year to year, it’s important to remember that it’s not a commitment that you’ll have to stick with forever if you find a different plan that better meets your company’s needs.

Stephanie Dwilson has extensive experience providing expertise on topics including health, law and marketing. She’s a science journalist published by Fox News, a marketing expert and an attorney with expertise in personal injury law. She’s also a small business expert featured by Businessweek and Millionaire Blueprints magazine and has worked as a marketing consultant for ministries and as a PR lead for one of the largest churches in America.