Following our previous blog post Common Questions About Employee Benefits Small Businesses Ask, we will answer five more questions that we commonly receive from small and medium-sized businesses.
1. How should I work with an advisor?
As industry experts, an advisor acts as an indispensable resource in helping businesses navigate the health benefits landscape. An advisor will help you understand your needs and the needs of the organization, and work with your budget to get the best possible benefits plan that achieves your objectives. An advisor acts as a consultant for your insurance needs. Their role includes:
- Advising businesses on an appropriate benefit plan structure
- Advising on insurers with products that will best suit your needs
- Implementing best cost management practises
- Providing ongoing support over time
Click here to learn more about choosing an advisor.
2. How do I manage my benefits plan?
To manage your benefits plan effectively, you should designate a “plan administrator.” This may be the business owner in the case of smaller businesses, an HR manager, or someone else whose job it is to run the business operations.
Once a benefits plan has been implemented, there is not typically a large amount of day-to-day work needed. Updates that the plan administrator will need to coordinate include bringing new hires onto the plan, taking those who have left the organization off the plan, and making changes to the family status of employees, such as those who add a spouse or dependants onto their plan. Depending on your plan design and the benefits you offer, you may also need to keep your plan up-to-date when promotions or salary increases occur. How you manage your plan will differ depending on your plan provider, but this can often be coordinated through your advisor or through a self-service portal.
3. Will my group insurance costs increase?
Your initial group insurance rate is based off of many factors, including your employees’ ages and genders as well as your company’s claim history if this is not your first benefits plan.
A change of insurance premiums is based on the individual organization’s claims usage in the year; insurance premium costs can increase or decrease if the organization’s usage is higher or lower than projected, respectively. Likewise, usage rates in line with the year’s projected usage will likely result in no change to premiums.
Beware of group insurance offers with tantalizingly low rates for the first year of coverage; the cost for such plans typically increases dramatically after the first year, often leading to organizations paying much more over the long run.
4. What will happen to my benefits plan if my company grows?
A good benefits plan is one that is flexible and scalable when your company grows. Many first-time buyers of group benefits opt for a basic plan or a Health Spending Account (HSA) to start off. Once your company starts growing, a sustainable benefits plan can easily be built upon. Many businesses start offering additional health benefits once they reach a certain number of employees in order to incentivize existing employees to stay with the company, and to assist in attracting top talent in the industry. Of course, this is completely up to the client.
To best prevent benefits “growing pains,” your advisor can help you select a sustainable benefits plan for your company – one that will meet both your current needs and can be easily adjusted (or added to) in order to meet the needs of your company in the long-term future.
5. Should I provide vision coverage to my employees?
Vision coverage, while a nice thing to have, is not a necessity at many companies. If half of your workforce or more wears prescription glasses or contact lenses, you may want to consider offering vision coverage. For companies where the majority of employees do not require vision care, you may find the number of employees who actually require vision care does not justify the monthly vision premiums to cover all your employees. Instead, a Health Spending Account can go a long way in meeting the needs of your employees who do not have coverage (or not enough coverage) in areas that they require, including vision care.
How Heath Accounts/HSAs work:
Instead of having separate categories for areas of coverage such as medical/drug, dental, and paramedical, HSAs roll multiple categories into one lump sum account. This way, your employees are covered for the health expenses they are most likely to incur. An HSA can also be used to supplement an existing insurance plan. It’s important to note that the list of eligible medical expenses that can be covered through a Health Spending Account differs by province/territory. Learn more about HSAs here.
Missed our first article 5 Common Questions about Employee Benefits Small Businesses Ask? Click here to read.
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