The middle of autumn may bring many happy thoughts with it, but for small and medium-sized businesses especially, this time period means one thing: healthcare open enrollment. Unfortunately, this can feel like a hectic and confusing time as you don a second hat to plan your company’s offerings, ensure you stay in compliance, and answer employee questions. On top of that, the rising cost of benefits can become debilitating for many SMBs. Let’s look at what’s happening in this arena, including cost-saving initiatives and your duty as an employer.
If you feel your organization’s healthcare costs are going up, you’re not alone. Research indicates that the average cost per employee will be nearly $15,000 in 2019. While many of the companies in that study were large, Fortune 500 organizations, it still represents the crux of the problem. Costs are high across the board, but larger organizations are better equipped to absorb a 5% rise in cost better than a smaller company. Further, average deductibles are up 53% in the last 5 years, leaving many employees unhappy with their healthcare plans. It all adds up and makes this time of year increasingly difficult for HR reps and business leaders.
As companies look at open enrollment for 2019, they inevitably consider ways to reduce healthcare costs. There are several current trends and initiatives to think about, some of which employers are adopting and some they are moving away from.
Of course, as an employer you have a duty to do more than just try and cut costs. There are legal obligations to consider depending on your exact size and makeup, and there are also best practices from an employee satisfaction standpoint to take into account. One of the biggest points to bear in mind is that healthcare is confusing for employees. They can search for information on certain offerings on Google, but they’ll still bring their plan-specific questions to you. It’s your duty to play the critical role of educator, which first requires educating yourself.
With autumn in full swing, it may feel like it’s already too late to get educated or change your planned offerings for 2019. That doesn’t have to be the case. Engaging with a PEO like Synergy can connect your employees to affordable but robust 2019 healthcare plans while placing experts in charge of administration and questions. In other words, a PEO can take over your healthcare duties, obligations, and headaches.
There are so many factors that go into healthcare open enrollment that they can make your head spin. Large companies may have the staff and budget dedicated to working on healthcare initiatives, but it’s simply more difficult for those in small and mid-sized companies to absorb the extra work this time period brings. Properly managing healthcare while reducing costs requires the year-round dedication that a PEO can bring to your organization.