A health benefits plan can play a meaningful role in helping a medium-sized business prosper. A medium-sized business has its own unique characteristics and supporting its employees with a benefit plan can be a great investment.
Size Medium Please
Small and large businesses often get the lion’s share of attention, but medium-sized businesses – between 50 and 250 employees – are an important driver of the economy. Medium-sized businesses have their own challenges and opportunities that are often different than small or large businesses.
Some medium-sized businesses begin to tackle the challenge of growing the business onto a global scale. In doing so, they have more opportunities, but it also means more competition and pressure to keep prices low. Having a stable, productive workforce is crucial to support these types of expansions. Employee benefits can help with this.
A medium-sized business must also work hard to hold on to its ability to be flexible and quick to react (these are often competitive advantages for small businesses). Successfully keeping that customer-focused mindset can really push a medium-sized business ahead.
One challenge facing many medium-sized businesses is that often products or services they need are geared toward small businesses or very large businesses. Finding products that are comprehensive enough to support a medium-sized business, without the hefty price tag charged to a large business, can be difficult.
Health Benefits as a Business Tool
Sponsoring a health benefits plan makes good business sense for a medium-sized business. A health benefit plan can be an important tool to attract and retain good, quality employees. It’s a competitive labour market and the right employee benefits plan can be a deciding factor in whether a prospective candidate accepts or declines a job offer. These new employees are needed to grow the business to support continued expansion.
A health benefits plan is also an important tool to support the health and happiness of employees. Healthy, happy employees are more productive. This helps keep the company competitive.
Lastly, a health benefits plan makes good business sense because it is a tax-deductible business expense. Not only does it help employees lead healthier, happier lives, it also helps out at tax time.
Make Good Choices for Your Plan
When choosing an employee benefits plan, there are a number of choices to make. Good choices can make all the difference in how effective the benefits plan is as part of your business strategy.
- Choose the Right Provider
You want to choose an employee health benefits provider who specializes in employee health benefits, and is focused on creating three great experiences: for your employees, so that they can access the benefits they need; for your plan administrator (often a human resources or finance employee), so that their administrative burden is simple and straightforward; and for your CFO, so that they’re comfortable with the value your organization Is getting from your benefits plan.
Be cautious of an approach that results in scaled-down versions of their large company plans – this isn’t always a good fit for a medium-sized company, who may be able to get more specific about coverages employees need. A specialized employee benefits provider can create a custom plan for a medium-sized business, including one that incorporates the best options from multiple providers.
- Look for Flexibility and Innovation
To get the best value for your employee benefits dollars, you’ll need a plan that incorporates innovative benefits that really support your particular workforce. This means no cookie-cutter plan that includes benefits you don’t need or want.
You’ll also have to look for flexibility. Recognize that your employees have different needs and wants at different times; providing a plan that allows them to make choices on how some of their employee benefits dollars are spent will go a long way. Consider including a health spending account to help cover co-pays or benefits that aren’t covered under the plan.
- Explore Administrative Services Only (ASO)
An Administrative Services Only (ASO) funding arrangement is a way of self-insuring your employee benefits plan, then choosing a provider to administer and deliver the plan. Traditionally this was only an option for large companies, but in many cases it makes sense to explore this option for medium-sized companies.
An ASO arrangement means the business takes on the financial risk of higher than anticipated or catastrophic claims. The flip side is: the business reaps the rewards if claims are lower than expected.
An ASO arrangement can be a good fit for medium-sized companies with predictable claims history. It requires a greater tolerance for risk, but financially it can make sense. There are also hybrid ASO options where some of the plan is self-insured, but the higher risk portions are still insured.
In order to be an important asset for a medium-sized business, a health benefit plan definitely needs to cover all the most common extended health benefits. Traditional benefits like prescription drug coverage and paramedical services are a great starting point, but then it’s time to move beyond traditional. Some more progressive benefits that should be considered when designing the plan include:
- An Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – An employee and family assistance program helps support the mental health of employees and their families. It provides free, short-term counselling and online resources and support for many of life’s most challenging situations. Its 24/7 availability and no-cost short-term counselling remove many of the largest barriers to getting help. It can also be utilized as a proactive tool before mental health deteriorates.
- Virtual healthcare – Today’s online world means many activities we used to complete in person can now be done online. Healthcare is one of them! Virtual healthcare allows employees to connect with healthcare professionals using a telephone, tablet or computer. It’s available 24/7 and many of the health concerns typically addressed in person can be handled with virtual healthcare. Employees will appreciate the ease of accessing healthcare without the need to travel to a doctor’s office. It can also lower workplace absences because employees don’t have to travel to a doctor’s office and they can schedule appointments any time of the day or night.
- Health Spending Account – A Health spending account functions like a bank account for health-related expenses. Including it in an employee benefits plan gives employees choice as to how their benefit dollars are spent. It can be used to cover co-pays or deductibles, or for another visit to a medical practitioner if an employee has already reached their limit for that specific paramedical service.
- Vision care – Vision care benefits are an important component to an employee benefit plan because they are not publicly funded in Canada. These benefits typically cover eye examinations, corrective lenses or contacts, and sometimes laser eye surgery. An eye exam can uncover health issues in other parts of the body. When caught early via an eye exam, it can mitigate prescription drug costs and lost productivity.
- Optional Benefits – Optional employee benefits give employees the choice to supplement their coverage with additional coverage or types of coverage not included in the base plan. Employees have access to lower rates than if they were to purchase the benefits on their own. They can pay for the benefits via payroll deduction.
Good Advice is Key
Is your health benefits plan to support the goals of your medium-sized business? Do you want more out of your employee benefits plan? Explore your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.