by HealthPartners

When it comes to your small business health insurance needs, you may feel stuck with your current plan.

And even if new, innovative small group health insurance options do exist, how do you find solutions that meet your employees’ varied needs?

Here are four signs you may want to change health insurance plans. Plus, learn how to find one that is more competitive and will save you time and money – while keeping your employees healthy.

1. You’re struggling to afford your current plan

One of the first signs you may need to switch is when your health plan premiums become too costly for your business. You might be locked into a high-premium, low-deductible plan because your workforce is incurring more medical expenses. And perhaps your current insurer has no available options to make your plan more affordable. Yet your healthier workers want the opportunity to choose a lower cost, high-deductible plan.

Each one of these concerns could add up to some serious headaches when you’re trying to attract a younger workforce with an affordable health plan.

Fully insured options provide choices for a diverse workforce

When you have a mix of ages across your workforce, a fully insured plan with multiple options can provide more stability, less risk and greater choice.

A high-deductible plan with a lower embedded deductible can also be more affordable for younger employees with families. In this model, each dependent faces a smaller individual deductible that they’ll have to meet, rather than one huge deductible across the entire family.

Health management programs reduce the need for costly care

If your workforce is facing costly medical expenses due to chronic conditions, take a hard look at whether your plan has a strong health management component that helps treat or prevent these issues early on. These solutions will not only save you money, but improve the overall health of your workforce and keep your employees on the job.

Have a healthy workforce? Save with level-funding

On the flipside, if your workforce is generally healthier and younger, with fewer claims, you may want to consider moving from fully insured to level-funded coverage. This will allow you to receive a premium rate that’s based on how healthy your population is, and it may be less expensive than the fully insured market.

Like fully insured plans, level funding provides cash flow certainty, because you’re paying a flat rate for an administrative fee, stop-loss premium and a predetermined dollar amount for claims. A level-funded plan requires underwriting because it’s a form of self-insurance. And upon annual renewal, if your workforce remains healthy with a claims surplus, you get to keep 50 percent of that money.

A standard self-funded plan works well if you have a steady cash flow to manage claims, administer the plan, and you have healthy employees. But this type of insurance can be overwhelming for a small business owner, especially as medical expenses in your workforce rise, forcing you to handle bigger claims on your own without the protection that level-funding provides.

Integration creates simplicity, convenience and cost savings

An additional element worth considering if current your plan is unaffordable is integrating health, prescription and dental benefits. Not only does this increase the simplicity and convenience for your employees, as they’ll have one point of contact when they need help, but it can also lead to significant savings over the long term. Additionally, with integrated plans, all providers will have shared access to the same health information. This information-sharing allows for more informed decision making, leading to earlier diagnoses and less costly treatment options.

2. Your employees aren’t happy

High turnover may be a sign that your employees aren’t happy with your health plan.

Choosing a health plan based on overall value rather than just the bottom line is key because otherwise you may face losing some of your most valuable, longtime employees. The cheapest plan might actually end up costing you more in the long run.

And with remote work expanding because of the pandemic and the labor market intensifying, you may find your business competing not just locally, but nationally for talent. While this provides a great opportunity to expand your hiring pool, it will be harder to compete if you have a limited, expensive health plan option or no plan at all.

Your younger, healthier employees may want lower premiums and a leaner plan while your older workforce may value more coverage. One way to find out what they truly want is to conduct an employee satisfaction survey. That can help guide your decision making toward different options that provide more balance, while keeping your employees happy and healthy.

3. Your business has grown

Growth is the heartbeat of any company, and it’s especially true for any start-up or small business that’s just getting off the ground. With growth comes continuous change, and that could include switching your health insurance.

Sticking with an old plan that you’ve outgrown could stunt your business and stymie your recruitment efforts. The Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) that worked for your small, healthy 8-person team might now be unsustainable for your larger, more diverse workforce. New employee prospects may be turned off by a sub-par health plan. It might be time to consider a fully funded plan with both high-deductible and low-deductible options to meet your employees’ needs.

4. New and better options are available

Buying your health insurance direct, without going through a broker, may mean you are missing out on new, innovative health plan products and competitive rates. Without a broker, you could overlook an opportunity to upgrade to a better, more affordable plan.

Consider flexible mix-and-match plan designs from HealthPartners

HealthPartners offers more plan design options and flexibility for small businesses in regions that have traditionally been lacking in options – such as Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. Working with a broker won’t cost your business any more. Our rates are competitive and include broker commissions.

As a local neighborhood partner, we’ve talked to brokers in the area to understand market gaps and build plan designs that offer more variety for a diverse workforce. These include:

  • Fully insured traditional copay-deductible plans with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs), including high-deductible and low-deductible plans
  • Innovative plans like Three for Free, a high-deductible plan that provides three free medical visits per member per year
  • Level-funded solutions for groups with 10 or more employees
  • Integrated dental and pharmacy benefits for added savings

And with our Living Well health and well-being tools – such as health assessments, digital activities, condition management, and care navigators – your employees will have every resource they want at their fingertips to get healthier. With award-winning customer service, we’re committed to guiding members to the appropriate care they need, when they need it. Access to telehealth options, such as Virtuwell and Doctor on Demand, also offer greater care convenience at a lower cost.

How to change health insurance plans

Wondering how to switch health insurance companies?

Talk to a broker! A broker can walk you through your options and assist you with the nuts and bolts of how to change health insurance providers.

Learn more about how to choose a health plan

You should also be aware of key questions to ask when choosing health insurance in general, like:

  • Which services are covered, and at what percentage?
  • What plan options are available?
  • Does the plan involve copays, coinsurance or both?
  • How big is the plan’s network?
  • Are integrated dental and pharmacy benefits available?
  • Does the plan provide health assessments and incentives for employees to improve their well-being?
  • Does the plan provide low-cost telehealth services like Virtuwell or Doctor on Demand?
  • What medical cost comparison tools are available to help my employees understand the cost of procedures and treatments across different doctors?
  • Is there a drug cost calculator available to look up and compare prescription costs, notify your employees when there is a savings opportunity and transfer prescriptions conveniently from one pharmacy to another?

A broker can help you get answers to these and other important questions.

Questions for small business owners to ask when changing health insurance companies

Switching your health insurance may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some questions and considerations to help you navigate the process.

What’s the best time for switching health insurance plans?

The timing of switching is going to depend a lot on your current plan and the contract you already have in place, which may limit when and how you can end it. While you may not need to wait until open enrollment, it's important to strategize the best time with your team and broker to minimize any disruption to your employees and make sure there’s a smooth, seamless transition.

Can your employees’ deductibles roll over?

When you’re looking to make a mid-year switch in your company’s health plan, it’s important to look for one that allows your employees’ deductibles to rollover. This means that all expenses that went toward your employees' deductibles within a calendar year will rollover to the new plan as of the new plan’s effective date.

What can you expect from the onboarding process?

As your employees juggle their busy schedules to support your business’ growth, having an easy and simple sign-up process for your new plan will help increase engagement and satisfaction.

HealthPartners makes the onboarding experience seamless and easier by providing enrollment materials that are specific to your plan and network offerings. When offering a mix of different plans, we can provide employees with a comparison tool to help them find one that’s right for them. And if they need any assistance, our member services team is just a call or click away.

When and how should you notify your employees?

Notifying employees about your decision to switch health plans can be a sensitive topic, so it's critical to create a communication strategy that emphasizes the benefits of the new plan and educates them on how it can fit into their lifestyle.

We’re here to help make the transition successful by providing them with answers to their frequently asked questions — like how their plan works, what's covered, ways to cut costs and how to best shop for care. Even though switching health plans may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be with our hassle-free administration, award-winning customer service and online employer tools that provide plan information and reporting when you need it.

HealthPartners offers small group regional insurance options in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, giving you the plan flexibility you’ve been seeking. Now you can offer your employees choices that fit their lifestyles and budgets, complete with value-added services that maximize savings without sacrificing quality. Talk to a broker today to learn more about our options and find out which plan is right for your organization.