Providing health insurance is a huge challenge for most small business owners. Most small firms don’t have enough employees to qualify for the best rates, so their employees — and often their owners — have to make do without health insurance.
When you own and operate a home-based business, the challenge is even greater. Most home-based businesses don’t have employees, and those that do usually have just a few.
But there are options. Many health care companies offer plans for the self-employed, and there are others that cater to small business.
Here are some tips for obtaining health insurance for yourself and the employees of your home-based business:
- Join a group. Individual small businesses have a hard time negotiating the best rates from insurers, but when they band together, they can demand better deals. These buying groups can be administered by a college or alumni association, a professional or trade organization, your city government, or your local chamber of commerce.
- Look for plans aimed at small businesses. Most insurers offer plans specifically tailored to the unique needs of small businesses. Since several providers are competing for a share of this lucrative market, you may be able to take advantage of premiums and special offers.
- Don’t forget about your own health insurance needs. Your family, your employees, and your customers all depend on you, so you can’t afford to go without health care. After all, if you don’t have health insurance, one catastrophic event could conceivably cost you your business. So remember to take care of you first.
- Select the right type of coverage. There is a mind-numbing variety of health plans available, from fee-for-service plans to PPOs to HMOs. Each has different benefits and liabilities, including the obvious ones: cost and flexibility. Before you select an insurance plan, ask as many questions as necessary and conduct as much research as you can.
- Look into HSAs. Health Savings Accounts allow you and your employees to set aside pre-tax money to pay for their health care costs. While it’s not technically an insurance product, an HSA can save you and your employees significant amounts during income tax time, and other than the expenditures associated with administering the HSAs, there’s no cost to offering them.