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5 Common Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Buying Health Insurance

Everyone wants to save a buck. All too true for small business owners watching their bottom line. But, health insurance is one area that you shouldn’t skimp. That penny-pinching plan could end up costing you and your employees big $. Not to mention, the hassle that might ensue from dealing with said medical insurance issues. (Uh…have you ever been on hold by one of those large health insurance companies?)


We know the sheer mention of ‘shopping for health insurance’ often leads to minor heart palpitations. But, whether you do it in-house or use a broker or agent, these tips aim to help you shop smarter. Hopefully, that means if you need to see a doc for those heart palpitations or something else, you’re getting the care you need without breaking the bank.


Avoid these four common errors:


#1 Use an Ineffective Broker or Agent. You don’t fill a position by throwing a dart at a board and seeing what resume it lands on. (Interview not included.) Nor would you continue happily employing someone who continued to deliver lackluster work (and point fingers when you called them out). So, why would you treat your health insurance shopper the same way?


You’ll only be aware of your best health plan options if your agent or broker is presenting them to you. Think about this way, health insurance is your benefit and your expense. Best to be selective about your “shopper”. If you’re not happy with the options, start by asking your friends and small business network for referrals.


#2 Not Knowing What Employees Need. Picking a health plan blindly out of a hat might be fun but it likely will produce options that aren’t useful or appropriate to the majority of your employees. Consider these questions…are your workers mostly younger or older? Have family members with chronic medical conditions? Have younger or older children – or are trying to get pregnant? Would they prefer paying higher premiums and lower co-pays – or vice versa? There’s legal risk in asking these questions directly, but an anonymous survey can provide insights, so you can learn which plans will best meet employee needs.


#3 Just Picking the Cheapest. Being guided solely by the direct cost to your business’ bottom line can add costs elsewhere, as well as cost employees more. Cheap health insurance plans often have high deductibles and restricted provider networks. (Do you really want to drive 50 miles to see a cardiologist if you need one?). For employees with a chronic condition or for those who may have a toddler to teenager in the house, AKA injury magnet, the cheap plan can lead to big bills following a couple visits to the urgent care center or ER due to the latest sofa jumping, skateboarding, pea-up-the-nose incident.


Remember the old line, “you get what you pay for”. That cheap choice that seems a good deal for your biz, may end up being frustrating for your company and your employees in the long term.


#4 Neglecting the Value of “Extras.” No-cost 24/7/365 online access to a real, live, local doctor, saving time and doctor visit costs. Easy search capability for physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies that take your insurance. A broad network of physicians and hospitals allowing your employees to keep their doctors. These extras keep workers happier, healthier and on the job. For example, a live telemedicine-accessible doctor will have great tricks for getting peas out of the nose, can order prescription medicine for pink-eye and can diagnose if what you have is pneumonia or just a horrible case of cedar fever all without stepping foot in a waiting room.


#5 Disregarding Customer Service. You (and your employees) hope customer service is something you never need. But, this is your medical care and questions assuredly abound. If what you look for in customer service is great hold music and the possibility of speaking to many people who just never seem to answer your question, then you’re in luck, most large health insurance companies offer this (not-so) enticing customer service.


All too often when you need to contact your health insurance company it’s urgent and important. So, what is it worth to you and your employees to talk to a live person and get the answers you need within a reasonable timeframe.


At Vista360health, we’re eager to answer questions and help guide Central Texas small business owners. Get in touch and let’s make sure you find the best plan – and don’t make a costly mistake that can harm your business and employees you count on.