Post a new topic
    25 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2009 3:26 PM by SBC Team

    Event: Health care benefits for your small biz

    SBC Team Guide
      Join Regina Hunter from Aetna on Tuesday, February 10th, from 2:00 - 3:00 EST, as she discusses how to help maintain the health of a successful small business.

      By offering health benefits, small business owners can accomplish a number of important goals, such as attracting and retaining talented employees, enhancing the well-being of these employees and increasing overall workplace productivity.

       

      In today's challenging economic environment, more and more employers are considering consumer-directed plans, which give members a more active role in his or her health care decisions, and also give small business owners greater flexibility, as they are able to control costs while at the same time offer attractive benefit options.

      Small business owners have an opportunity to invest in their business by helping their employees improve their health. So in addition to the plans offered, it is crucial for business owners to look at wellness programs, services and tools offered with their health care plan.

       

       

      Questions to ask during this forum include:

       

       


      • How do I choose the best plan for my situation?
      • Are there any tax benefit plans to help save money on health care?
      • How can I maximize my health care plan and stretch the dollar?
      • What positive impacts can I potentially see by offering health benefits to employees?

      Regina Hunter is Head of Field Management for Aetna's Small and Middle Market (ASM) business. In this role, she is responsible for providing strategic direction to the field sales and account management organization. Regina and her team work closely to analyze and position Aetna to effectively distribute affordable products and innovative solutions that appeal to employers, employees and brokers.

      Previously, Regina was Head of Small Group Product Strategy and Market Support for ASM, responsible for product development, training, and distribution strategy. Prior to that, Regina was the General Manager for small group in the Southwest region, with full profit and loss responsibility.
        • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
          Tori Adventurer
          Hi Regina,

          Welcome to the SBOC!

          Health care can be expensive. What options are there to help control costs?

          ~Tori
            • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
              ReginaHunter Newbie
              Thanks for your question, Tori! For many small business owners, the people who work for them are not just their employees. The daily close interaction helps build strong relationships and in many cases, the owner develops a personal commitment to the health and welfare of their employees and families. Despite this commitment, a conflict may arise as health care costs continue to climb and threaten the bottom line of a small business.

              There are several options to help control costs, such as High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). These types of plans are designed to give members more control over their health care spending. Members can draw from their HSA or HRA to pay for qualified medical expenses. With these types of plans, the premium payments are often lower.

               

              There are three basic types of health funds which can be combined with an HDHP:

               

              Health Savings Account (HSA) -Members can use funds from their account to pay for their deductibles. If someone qualifies to open an HSA, he/she can deduct contributions from income tax or contribute pre-tax dollars if the employer has a cafeteria plan established. With an HSA, you can invest in a variety of funds, earn tax-free interest and the money is available whenever you need it. If you withdraw cash from the account to pay for nonqualified expenses, though, the money is taxable and additional penalties may be involved.
              Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) - An employer is the one who funds an HRA. Members can use this money to pay for deductibles and covered medical expenses and don't count it as income. The employer, though, defines how the money can be used and the money cannot be drawn out as cash.
              Flexible Spending Account (FSA) - With an FSA, money is taken from your paycheck before taxes and put into an account. The IRS determines what services can be paid for using your FSA, including health care-related services and products, as well as certain expenses for your dependents. There is a use it or lose it provision in FSAs so if you don't use all the money in the account, your employer gets to keep it.

              Health Care Spending Account - Participants estimate what their health care expenses will be for the coming year and set aside pretax dollars to pay for any out-of-pocket health care expenses.
              Dependent Care Spending Account - Participants use pretax dollars to pay child or elder care expenses.
            • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
              SBC Team Guide
              The information provided in response to your questions is subject to change and is not to be construed as providing legal advice. It is for informational purposes only and is subject to State &/or Federal laws and regulations.

              **Bank of America or Aetna and its representatives shall have no liability for legal/tax related decisions or benefit plan decisions made based on the information provided here.
              • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                RockBand Newbie
                Hello,

                Health care has always been a mystery to me because I never know what I should start with first. What I mean is, should I sit down with my employees first and determine their needs and then shop around for a health care provider? Or vice versa? And it seems like it would be very personal to ask them their needs, how should I go about approaching them to ensure everything will be confidential and that I'm not just asking them what kind of medication they're on, if they're expecting a child, etc?

                RockBand
                  • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                    ReginaHunter Newbie

                    Hi RockBand (my kids would love your name!)

                     

                    Good question. Let's first discuss why health insurance is available - it's to cover members against catastrophic loss. Then comes what you can add on to the health plan to help you and your employees. Your broker can help you narrow down the plan that makes the most sense for your unique situation. If you want to do some research on your own, you can go to http://www.planforyourhealth.com for information on healthcare benefits. As a general rule of thumb though, you will need to determine how much you can afford for the overall premiums and then look at the value in helping your employees, such as:

                    • Coverage
                    • Convenience
                    • Decision support tools
                    • Ease of access
                    • Flexibility in access to providers
                    • Option for savings account

                     

                    You can start by ranking the above in priority order and as mentioned, your broker should be able to help you find the best plan for your company. I hope this helps you!
                  • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                    SBC Team Guide
                    Have questions on how to implement health care benefits in your small business? This is the place to ask them!
                    • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                      NewJersey Newbie
                      Hi. I am looking to save money for both me and my employees. Do healthcare carriers offer any discount programs for small businesses?
                        • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                          ReginaHunter Newbie

                          Hi, New Jersey,

                          Carriers offer a variety of discount programs to their members. Some of the programs Aetna offers on small group plans include:

                           

                          • Eye Care Savings Program -offers special savings on eye exams not covered under the base medical plan. The discounts can be realized on frames, lenses and other eye care accessories.
                          • Fitness Program -provides special membership rates at participating fitness clubs, as well as discounts on equipment and videos.
                          • Weight Management Program - Through these programs, members can receive discounts on services to help them maintain their health through discounted memberships, one-on-one weight loss counseling, menu planning and motivational materials.
                          • Natural Products and Services - offer reduced rates on alternative therapies, including visits to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists and nutritional counselors. You can also save on over-the-counter vitamins and nutritional and herbal supplements.

                           

                          Small businesses will benefit by seeing improved productivity plus the increased employee satisfaction in the extra programs and services health carriers offer. Employers can better manage health care costs by providing access to a variety of resources. In addition, Aetna offers our small employers access to the Aetna Resource Connection program. This allows us to share our negotiated discounts with a variety of vendors providing goods and services to meet your business needs. For more information, please go to http://www.aetnaresourceconnection.com.
                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                          Interpreter Wayfarer
                          I am the employer and the only employee in my interpretting business. Should I be looking at health care benefits for individuals or health care benefits for small groups? Looking at your website, Small Group is defined as 2-50 employees?? Which one tends to be more affordable?
                            • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                              chrysalis Newbie
                              I'm in the same boat. I've already purchased individual coverage and I must say it is horrible. My fiance and I are both self employeed, own our own companies and are the sole employees of each thus far. How can we get the most coverage in this current situation?
                                • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                  ReginaHunter Newbie
                                  Hi Chrysalis,

                                  I'm sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with your current coverage. You may want to compare the plans offered by all individual carriers in your area. Aetna, as well as other carriers, offers a variety of individual plans to meet your needs and fit your budget.

                                  In some states, sole-proprietors are protected under small group reform legislation so there may be a small group option that works for you. Bottom line--you should evaluate all options. If you don't currently work with an insurance broker, you may want to engage one for assistance and guidance in finding the best plan for you.

                                  Good luck!
                                • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                  ReginaHunter Newbie

                                  Hi Interpreter - It would be in your best interest to evaluate both individual and small group plans, as the rates will vary based on the benefits you select and your unique situation. In most states, you must have two full-time employees in order to qualify as a small group.

                                   


                                  It is important to note that the small group market is guaranteed issue while the individual market is medically underwritten. This means that for small group, you are guaranteed coverage as long as you meet the definition of a small group, as defined by state legislation, and you meet the carrier's underwriting requirements. For an individual plan, you will need to provide some background on yourself, such as:

                                  • Whether you smoke
                                  • Health history
                                  • Your age
                                  You can get an Aetna Individual quote online at http://www.aetna.com. Most individual carriers offer online quoting.

                                   

                                  At Aetna, we define small group business generally as 2 - 50 although some states go from 1 - 50. It's important to check with your broker to find the best plan for your unique situation, as every carrier offers different plan designs and programs depending on the state. Thanks for your question.
                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                  StonesThrow Newbie

                                  Are small business ever turned away from health care providers because of the industry they're in? I'm in construction. And as you may know, its a very dangerous industry. Will I have to pay more in premiums/coverage than say a business that's indoors and safe behind a desk all day?
                                    • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                      ReginaHunter Newbie
                                      Thanks for your question, StonesThrow,

                                      In the majority of states, small groups are guaranteed issue and legitimate small groups, as defined by the legislation, cannot be turned away. Many states, however, do allow for premium adjustments based on various factors--one of those being industry type--but the adjustment is usually minimal. Each carrier will rate industries differently based on the standard industry classification code for your business. Contact your broker or the carriers directly for more information.
                                    • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                      SBC Team Guide

                                      Community,

                                       


                                      Do you have questions on health care benefits for your small business? You don't have to be the employer to have questions. If you're an employee, do some digging for your boss and make the case to have health care benefits implemented into the work place.

                                      So what's your health care question?
                                      • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                        Vince Adventurer
                                        Regina, this is a great topic!

                                        What common mistakes do small business owners make when evaluating their employees' needs as well as their own? Are there things they often overlook in general when shopping for health care?

                                        Vince
                                          • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                            ReginaHunter Newbie

                                            Hi, Vince,

                                            Rather than focus on common mistakes, I would like to provide some things that small business owners should consider when shopping for benefits for their employees:

                                            1. Although price is important, employers should look to maximize the value they are getting for the dollars they are investing. For example, select a company that is easy to do business with, evaluate the online services available to help you administer your plans, consider the value-added programs and services to keep employees healthy and productive, etc. The least expensive option may not always be the best.
                                            2. Do your homework. Access information online or work with a broker to evaluate your options.
                                            3. Go with a reputable carrier.
                                            4. No plan is perfect, but you can select one that protects your employees from catastrophic losses, while providing them access to preventive services to keep them healthy and on the job.
                                            5. Don't forget other benefits such as dental, life and disability that work together with your medical plan to maintain the overall health of your employees and your business.
                                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                          • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                            SBC Team Guide
                                            Community, please join me in welcoming Regina Hunter of Aetna to the SBOC. She will be posting as ReginaHunter.

                                            Regina, want to kick it off?

                                            The SBOC team
                                            • Re: Live Event: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                              Bossman Newbie

                                              how do we log on to the webinar?
                                              • Re: Event February 10: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                                SBC Team Guide
                                                We're half way through the hour. Make sure you get your questions in so that Regina has time to respond.
                                                • Re: Live Event: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                                  SBC Team Guide
                                                  Regina,

                                                  Do you have any words of wisdom or some last thoughts to leave with the Community?
                                                    • Re: Live Event: Health care benefits for your small biz
                                                      ReginaHunter Newbie
                                                      Thank you for letting me participate in your online forum. In order for small businesses to be successful, they need to find loyal and talented employees. Providing health benefits to employees helps small business owners attract and retain talented employees; in many cases, small business owners do not offer health insurance, which can be key differentiator.

                                                      Aetna is committed to be part of the solution when it comes to healthcare reform in our country. I encourage you to engage in the healthcare reform discussions that are ongoing at both the federal and state levels.

                                                       

                                                      At Aetna, we believe that:

                                                      1. Every American should have access to affordable health care with the best possible results
                                                      2. Transforming the U.S. health care system is a shared responsibility that requires leadership and collaboration
                                                      3. Universal coverage is possible only when there is universal participation
                                                      4. A competitive marketplace is the foundation for comprehensive health care reform
                                                      5. People need access to information, technology, and support to make wise health care decisions

                                                      Working together we can build a health future for all of us.

                                                      Thanks again. Have a great day!