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Challenges for Businesses Implementing Group Health Insurance Plans in 2018

We’re still at the start of 2018, but if this coming year is anything like the past couple of years, it’s going to be a big one for small business. For example, the number of new job seekers taking it upon themselves to start their own business at the end of 2016 was the highest it had been in four years in the United States. More recently, Bloomberg reports that tech startups are nearly 48% stronger today than they were just a year ago. It seems more investors are willing to put forth capital for new business ventures, and absent investors credit is now relatively cheap for those with solid business plans. The IMF has also projected that global economic growth in 2017 is likely to have been 3.7%, and that 2018’s growth rate should be even higher at 3.9%. To be sure, there will be many new businesses entering world markets this year, and a large number of existing businesses will be making great strides and expanding their operations.

These are no small feats, however. As any successful (or perhaps even more so unsuccessful) business owner can tell you, getting a new business up and running, or scaling to meet a business’s potential both bring with them a cavalcade of problems and issues that are likely to arise. One of the big ones for companies that will be expanding the size of their staff in 2018 is what to do about implementing group health insurance for their employees. In the world of business, nothing can hinder you more than an unknown unknown, so Pacific Prime has provided the following information on the challenges that businesses are likely to have when implementing group health insurance plans.

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Market changes

Recently, website International Advisers and renowned insurance company Bupa Global highlighted Bupa’s belief that workforces are becoming more mobile globally. This is resulting in more companies depending on international health insurance plans than ever before. These plans are different from most group health insurance options, in that they provide benefits for medical care virtually anywhere in the world. Given the nature of these types of medical insurance plans, it comes as no surprise that global trends can affect such policies, as well as the businesses that hold them.

Worldwide trends discussed in the piece are the raising average age in many spots around world, as well as the resulting increase in lifestyle diseases or diseases of affluence. The reason that this is particularly challenging for international businesses is that these trends tend to raise medical costs, which then lead to insurance companies raising premiums to keep pace. This is even putting a strain on countries that have installed universal or heavily subsidized healthcare schemes, as governments have to decide who will foot the bill for medical inflation.

Plan selection: A balancing act

Just like governments are doing a balancing act to provide their people with adequate medical care, businesses are doing the same in order to ensure that they offer the best possible health insurance benefits to their employees. This not only keeps current employees happy, it also helps attract top talent to a company, helping to help the business perform better than the competition.  Of course, the bottom line is still a priority for just about any business, so choosing a plan that balances costs and benefits is crucial.

More cash-strapped companies are likely to minimize the seemingly extraneous benefits that can be added to a health insurance plan. While in-patient coverage is always a part of any health insurance plan, and out-patient benefits are usually included as well – both with varying levels of maximum benefits limits – there are other types of cover that are frequently left out from a group health insurance plan in order to keep premiums low. These include maternity, dental, and vision coverage, but can include other benefits, too.

In fact, companies that do have the money to spend are now often using wellness benefits in order to provide medical benefits that do much more than just address acute or chronic health problems after they have already occurred.  Wellbeing programs tend to focus on preventive medicine, and healthy living more generally. These initiatives can be a pricey addition that some companies may deem extravagant, but others believe that enabling employees to take charge of their own health adds a level of job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity that is unlikely to be found otherwise. Clearly, choosing the right balance of cost and benefits can be critical for a business.

Plan usage

Once your company’s group health insurance policy and benefits have been chosen, it becomes important to ensure that staff members are making use of it. Otherwise, your company ends up  paying a great deal for practically no reason. If your business implements a new group insurance policy this year, be sure to educate your employees on the specific benefits within it, how and where they can make use of them, and what resources are available to make doing so easier. Such resources include your insurer or broker’s customer service hotlines or online portals.

It may also pay to remind your employees that, when it comes to benefit plans, the rule is oftentimes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” After all, why pay to have your wellness plan include something like a gym membership if your staff just doesn’t use it.

Renewal

While it can be challenging implementing group international health insurance plans that fit your company well, the challenges don’t stop there. At the end of each year, it will come time to renew your company’s insurance policy. This is when you will have to decide whether you want to continue on with your benefits as is, adjust your benefits with your current insurer, or change your insurer entirely. How can you know what the correct decision is? There are ways to make use of data so that you can identify it.

Loss ratio

As we mentioned before, you want to make sure that your company makes use of its benefits properly to justify its current insurance plan. How much value you are getting from your plan versus how much you are paying for it is essentially known as the policy’s loss ratio. If your employees don’t make use of their benefits, it may be time to lower the level of benefits, or cut some of them altogether.

On the other hand, if your staff is making full use of the policy, and, in fact, overusing it, your insurance provider is going to try to raise your premiums significantly at renewal time. At Pacific Prime, we can anticipate this situation by analyzing your policy and usage data. Then, at renewal time, we can assist with negotiations, and identify areas where a perceived over usage is unlikely to occur again down the line. For example, if one of your employees has an accident that results in a particularly costly claim during the year, but it is highly unlikely that it will occur again in the future, our advisers can argue this point with an insurer in the hopes of keep your premium low.

Benchmarking

How is your policy performing versus others in your industry? How much are your premiums likely to go up, and is this amount normal for other businesses with similar plans? These are the types of questions that can be extremely difficult for a business to answer on their own. If you are a Pacific Prime member, however, we will provide an annual benchmarking report that answers these questions and more. Don’t go into your renewal not knowing where you stand.

Help with implementing group health insurance

There are plenty of challenges out there when implementing group health insurance policy, and they do not end with the items mentioned in this article. When you undergo the process for yourself, you will no doubt find that unexpected problems will rear their ugly head when you least expect it. Don’t go it alone, though! Even if you have yet to choose an insurer, you can still make use of an insurance broker, like Pacific Prime, to guide you and your business along the path to obtaining quality comprehensive international health insurance.

Not only does working with an experienced broker allow you to get answers to any questions that you have, it also doesn’t cost you anything extra for a helping hand. Our insurance advisers can give you the knowledge you need to secure the best insurance plan available on the market for your needs, as well as provide you with a free plan comparison and price quotation. Contact us today to get started, and get assistance in meeting your challenges head on.

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