Health benefits top the list when it comes to ways dental practices seek to attract and retain top talent. At the same time, watching budgets is also always paramount. Traditional group health insurance is typically out of reach for most dental practices because of high costs, but there are some lesser-known options available. For example, it’s increasingly common for dental practices to offer staff free or reduced dental care. This article provides tips that owners and managers of dental practices can follow to provide a quality health benefit at a price they can afford.
1. Work with a health insurance broker
A licensed health insurance broker can educate you about the different health insurance plans and options for your dental practice. They can also help you find health insurance options that fit a tight budget.
Since health insurance brokers are independent and sell for multiple companies, they often have a greater variety of options available to serve smaller businesses. A broker can work with your practice to evaluate the available options in your area to find solutions that meet your coverage and budget goals. Here are some tips for choosing a good insurance agent or broker.
2. Evaluate group health insurance vs. individual health insurance
While the options may seem endless and overwhelming, there are just two ways to purchase health insurance. One way is to purchase an individual insurance policy and the other way is to purchase a group health insurance policy.
Individual health insurance is a policy purchased by an individual for themselves and their family based upon personal needs and budget—just like car insurance. Individuals can select from a wide variety of plan types and coverage levels. Policies can be purchased through a licensed health insurance agent or the health insurance marketplace. Purchasing an individual health insurance policy has never been easier.
Group health insurance is a type of health insurance policy that is purchased by an employer and is offered to eligible employees of the company and their dependents. With group health insurance, the employer selects the plan (or plans) to offer to their employees. The premium cost is often split between the employee and the employer, and the employer must cover a minimum percentage of the premium, usually 50%. As the cost for premiums continues to increase each year, many small businesses are choosing not to offer health benefits at all or to look at more cost-effective options.
3. Consider your employees’ options on the health insurance marketplace
Individual health insurance plans give your employees more choice and control by allowing them to choose a plan that fits their needs, including coverage level and network. Employees can choose their plans to work with their budget and these plans can be customized to individual circumstances and age.
For example, if a young employee is relatively healthy and on a tight budget, a plan with a lower premium and higher deductible may be the right choice. On the other hand, for older employees or employees with more healthcare needs, a plan with a higher premium and lower deductible and out of pocket maximum may be the better plan.
Dental practices may also want to check out the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. The ACA designed the SHOP Marketplace to provide small employers and employees with more choices for their healthcare plan. Part of the appeal of the SHOP is access to the small employer health care tax credit; however, dental practices should exercise care to ensure they meet the stringent requirements for the credits.
4. Consider reimbursing your staff for premiums and expenses
Instead of offering pricey group health insurance, many dental practices are opting for health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
With this health benefit, employees purchase individual health insurance plans on their own, while the employer commits to reimbursing employees a certain allowance each month for premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses. HRAs benefit employees by letting them pick a plan suited to their current needs and life circumstances that isn’t tied to their employer—which can be particularly attractive in the uncertain Covid-19 world. HRAs benefit employers by giving them the ability to offer a quality health benefit that is easier to manage than group health insurance, while also giving them much more control over costs. There are also significant tax savings with an HRA for both employers and employees. All reimbursements are free of payroll tax for the employer and employees. Reimbursements are also free of income tax for employees, as long as the policy the employee chooses qualifies as Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC). HRAs have allowed many practices like Summit Dental Group to offer health benefits for the first time.
There’s no question that dental practices face immense challenges when it comes to taking care of employees in a Covid-19 world. For many, HRAs might just be an option that doesn’t force them to choose between helping employees stay healthy and reducing staff.
Check out this video to find out more about offering benefits to your staff: