If you own or manage a business that offers employee health insurance, the stretch of time between now and November is more important than you might realize.  Under the new system of healthcare reform, many businesses are under the impression that there's nothing they can do about their premiums, and that automatically renewing their group plan is the only option.  This is simply not true.

The reality is much more concerning.  Group medical premiums are expected to increase, and increase sharply, for a wide spectrum of businesses.  Moreover, there are many new compliancy requirements that far too many businesses are either unaware of, ill-informed on, or completely unprepared to address.

In this article we're going to look at what you can do to ensure that your business doesn't end up stuck in a group plan that is inadequate, overpriced, or in direct violation of the new regulations under the Affordable Care Act.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Current Plan

If you've been a little standoffish regarding your company's employee benefits, it's perfectly understandable.  After all… you have a business to run, and the last thing you want to be doing is glowering over page after page of group health plan documents.  We get it.  But this is not the time to step back and hope everything works out, come open enrollment.  It's vital that you know exactly where you stand, how your healthcare dollars are being spent, and what to expect come November.

If you're a smaller company without a dedicated HR staff, or if your current agent has not been keeping you in-the-loop on healthcare reform updates, it may be worth contacting one who genuinely understands the coming changes, as well as what you need to do to avoid non-compliance, or auto-renewing without first benchmarking your current plan.  

Understanding Benchmark Plan Assessments

A benchmark assessment is a process where your company's current plan is compared, side-by-side, with that of other employers in your area.  These assessments are conducted to create a snapshot of what you're spending, while determining how it compares to other companies and identifying areas where you may be overpaying or under-providing.  The criteria used to benchmark your plan includes: industry, employee size, group plan type (HMO, PPO, HSA, etc), copay amounts, deductibles, and a variety of other factors.      

Why have this done?  For starters, there may be areas where you stand to save substantial amounts of money, simply by making the most basic adjustments to your deductibles, copayment amounts, coverage types and other key factors.  Additionally, and this is especially true of industries where retaining talent is involved, benchmarking your plan allows you to identify areas where other employers are offering their employees more appealing healthcare coverage.

Don't Make the Mistake of Waiting Until October

We understand that these things have a way of sneaking up on businesses, but this is truly one that you don't want to let go until the last minute.  It takes time to properly assess the real health insurance needs of any company, as well as the time needed to make the needed changes while keeping business owners and human resource personnel up-to-speed on things like healthcare reform compliancy, mandatory new forms, premium adjustments, documentation submissions, and many others.

Having your plan evaluated now, before the madness begins in mid-to-late October, affords you ample time to make any necessary adjustments to your group plan.  If these are issues that your current agent has not been bringing to your attention, perhaps it's time to work with one who will.

Schedule Your Free Employee Benefits Benchmark Review

If you're a business in the Chicago area that is concerned about the coming changes, or would like to schedule a free benchmark assessment to see where you might be overpaying or at risk of a significant increase, Premier can help you find out for free.  Our local agency is located in the heart of the Naperville/Lisle area, and specializes in group plans, Affordable Care Act compliance, employee benefits and more.  Call and speak with one of our agents today at 800-369-0287 to learn more, or set up an appointment in your office or ours.