Prepping for 2015? Here’s How to Navigate the Changes in Health Insurance for Small Businesses

In 2014, the health insurance industry in America fundamentally changed, affecting businesses and employees nationwide. From rates to premiums to newly imposed penalties, the shockwaves were felt across the board—and for many small businesses, too much confusion and uncertainty left them and their employees under-supported and under-prepared to effectively navigate the new marketplace.

Now, 2015 is right around the corner and it seems inevitable that more change is on the horizon. But will your business be prepared? Are you still unclear what is expected of you and what choices will benefit your company best? Do you know how to find coverage, protect your employees, and keep your operations running smoothly?

While there are only minor adjustments expected due to the Affordable Care Act, here’s what you’ll want to know most about health insurance for small businesses in 2015, including how to identify the smartest way to meet any new requirements:

  1. Get to Know The Options for your Small Business

In 2015, new ACA regulations mandating Essential Health Benefits will complicate your small business health insurance costs. And although some employers might be tempted to push their employees to the health care exchanges to seemingly alleviate their own fiscal responsibilities, these exchanges have proven to confuse users. This is leaving many employees not just underinsured, but feeling frustrated that their company did not supported them. As well, the time employees are spending trying to sort through the chaos is time they are losing towards your company’s output.

Luckily, as a small business owner, you have other options, such as working with a larger organization like NARFA that specifically designs, administers, and manages plans to fit your unique small business health insurance needs.

Offering coverage through one of the nation’s largest carriers, NARFA’s buying power, experience, and full-scale services provide employers and employees alike with the best rates, greatest industry support, and most transparent plan descriptions presented in plain English. Your employees are even able to keep their doctors and confidently visit the medical centers of their choice without the “what if I’m not covered to go here” concerns.

Today, small businesses are being asked to do more with less. Joining NARFA’s group purchasing collaborative creates more cost-efficient and ACA compliant solutions, along with best in class service and around the clock support.

  1. Be Prepared for Changes in Your Health Insurance Premiums

In preparation for open enrollment coverage in 2015, insurers have begun to file rates with state insurance departments. States vary in whether and when they will release those rates. However, our best advice is to be prepared for tweaks to take place—rates are still under review by insurance departments and may change prior to the start of open enrollment.

For many, this circumstance creates a tricky situation. Not only does it require routine check-ins on rate statuses, it also means consumers must be able to financially respond on the fly.

At NARFA, we remain mindful of the expected increases, and we strive to preserve the strength of our group plans to yield the strongest plans for the most affordable prices. For example, NARFA members saw NO RATE INCREASES in 2014. While 2015 will be slightly more challenging, every effort has been made to ensure that plan designs continue to reflect the most competitive rates in the marketplace.

  1. Health Insurance Carriers Could Continue to Rise

After a year of implementation, many more health insurance carriers are anticipated to participate in health insurance exchanges. For example, the New Hampshire ACA exchange is expected to include policies from five carriers when open enrollment begins in November, offering about 50 different plans. This is a noticeable increase from the single carrier participating in 2014.

In 2014, sorting through the few plans available was daunting task in and of itself. This year, more plans will only means more stress—and in many of these cases, rates will be higher and the legalese more overwhelming.

Try not to leave your employees stranded to make sense of it all. Leveraging NARFA’s expertise, you can enroll, administer, support, and even reward your organization and its employees when it comes to health insurance for small businesses—including dental and vision, too.

  1. Prepare Your Employees Not Enrolled in Your Group Health Insurance for the Open Enrollment Deadline

Employees who are not on a group heath insurance plan should be mindful of the open enrollment period—beginning Nov. 14 and ending Feb. 15, 2015. While this option is not ideal, it is a best practice to support your employees to any degree you can afford—even if it’s just sharing pertinent dates to be mindful of.

As an employer, you want any uninsured employees to be aware that if they are not enrolled in a group health insurance plan or an individual plan by the above date that they could be subject to an individual responsibility payment or penalty. The fee in 2015 is higher than it was in 2014—2% of the employee’s income or $325 per adult/$162.50 per child, whichever is more.

At NARFA, we understand that the automotive, roads and fuel industry has unique needs, and that your business is only as strong as your workforce is healthy. However, we also know from experience that though there are many do-it-yourself options to get health insurance for small businesses that the health insurance marketplace is not an easy landscape for employers or employees to navigate. It’s often riddled with fine print, requires excessive energy to sift through, and the entire ordeal can tremendously detract from organizational objectives, overall company production capacity, and is not even guaranteed to yield the greatest coverage or value.

For these reasons, NARFA caters and specializes in servicing small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Specifically, our breadth of industry experience and our buying power ensure that our members receive the best rates on the most comprehensive policies for medical benefits, voluntary benefits, and dental benefits. Whether you need a go-to source for business health insurance inquiries, or you’re ready to protect your employees with the best, most affordable health insurance options starting today, we encourage you to contact us, learn more, and join the NARFA family.

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