This week the hubby finally received the benefits paperwork at his new 9-to-5 job. It’s a smaller company, with less than 20 employees, and they are offering to “contribute” a set dollar amount towards one of three health insurance packages. The benefits manager picked Blue Cross for all three options. She was shocked when I told her that I was only signing him up, not the rest of the family. I couldn’t get the “contribution” in cash to use on a policy of my choice elsewhere; otherwise I wouldn’t have signed him up either. What shocked her even more is that I chose the least expensive plan that had a $1200 deductible.
Personally, I think she was clueless. The plan that she thought I should choose was $500 for a single person and almost $1400 for a family. That is a huge chunk of money for a family. In fact, I can think of a million and one other things I could spend that on. I proceeded to tell her that, after a morning of research, I found a policy with the same coverage, a lower deductible and almost half the price. Plus, I used my savings on an awesome dental plan AND an HSA. She just stuttered and stammered, then she invited me to lunch.
I realized that maybe most people just do not know what to do when it comes to buying health insurance. I know my friends think that it is such a scary prospect; they’d rather let the company do that. In fact, it is what keeps some of them from following their dreams of self-employment.
The first thing you should know is that if you purchase or contribute towards health insurance for one full time employee, you are obligated to do so for them all. This includes you, if you count yourself as an employee on the books. Be sure to talk to your accountant.
There are several places to look for affordable health care. Check with the trade organizations that you belong to as well as your local Chamber of Commerce. Sometimes you get lucky and can join their group policy, which is usually a little cheaper than buying on your own.
Another idea is to call your county and ask if they have any government sponsored plans for small businesses. You’d be surprised at the number of counties that have a program set up to help small business owners with the expense. Many states also have programs set up exclusively for children. It’s not medicaid, but rather a state-sponsored health insurance where the premium is a sliding scale, based on income. Now, before you assume that everyone you know makes way too much, I have seen programs where if you make less than $9,000 a month, you still qualify. Check your state, even if its just to give the info to your team. Anyone that has kids will tell you that the cost of well-child visits and immunizations without decent coverage is ridiculously high!
You can also buy insurance through a broker, but my hands down favorite place is ehealthinsurance.com. You just enter your info and it pops up all the available policies. You can compare them based on deductible, co-pay and any number of things and even apply right online. The process does not have to be as complicated as it seems.