Each year, the United States spends over $2.5 trillion on health care. According to the National Coalition on Benefits, 177 million Americans participate in employer-sponsored health care plans. However, the cost of health care is drastically on the rise and experts estimate it could reach $4 trillion by 2015. The dramatic increase in health insurance premiums, combined with an unstable economy has forced many businesses to completely cancel or drastically reduce their employees’ benefits, further contributing to the 47 million Americans without insurance.
However, as most employers know, an applicant will accept a job based on not only salary, but also benefits. For most of your employees, purchasing their own independent health insurance plan for several hundred dollars per month is not a financially feasible option. Rather than dropping your employees’ benefits completely, you could consider implementing a few cost saving programs.
Consider having the employees contribute a set amount each week toward their health insurance. Perhaps you could divide the premium costs. While this will significantly lower your personal contribution, you are less likely to anger the employees if you still contribute a percentage. Yes, you will have employees that are appalled that they would be forced to pay half of their insurance premium. However, most would feel lucky to have insurance.
If you are not comfortable asking employees to split half of the costs, consider asking them to handle the vision or dental part of the plan. The premium for vision and dental insurance is not nearly as much as health insurance, and most employees would be more than willing to pay that in exchange for their health insurance.
If an employee’s spouse has a comparative insurance policy at their workplace, consider offering an incentive for the employee to depend solely on that policy. Most employees would depend on their spouse’s insurance for a hourly raise or yearly bonus.
Although criticized by some for its initial cost, a wellness program could save your company money not only in health costs, but also in increased productivity. Many businesses are offering incentives for signing up and following a wellness program. The program could be a quit smoking, quit drinking, quit chewing, or even exercising and weight management program. Incentives could include a grocery or gas gift card or even a free gym membership.
Studies have shown that healthy employees are happy employees. If you can get your employees exercising and losing weight, the amount of sick days used may just decrease. Also, healthy employees are more focused and can concentrate on their tasks more fully. Production and sales may just increase with healthy, happier employees.
Before initiating such a program, do your research. Find out what programs would be utilized by employees the most. It is useless to spend thousands of dollars on a “quit chewing” campaign if none of your employees use smokeless tobacco. Also, if you already have a wellness program that doesn’t hold much appeal, consider changing it. In general, most employees would benefit from an exercise, nutrition, or weight management program. Some insurance carriers also offer discounts for healthy, smoke-free employees.
Consider offering “flex” plans. Allow the employee to decide which benefits (insurance or non-insurance) they need or can live without. For example, an employee may forgo dental and eye insurance in exchange for a larger employer 401K contribution. Or, an employee may forgo the life insurance policy in exchange for a health insurance policy.
Before you decide to eliminate your employees’ health insurance all together, research and consider implementing plans in which the employee can offer contribution. Most employees would gladly contribute each week to have health insurance.
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