5 Things Retailers Need to Know About Health Care Reform and Employee Benefits

Healthcare Imagery.jpg

"Health care reform. Open enrollment. Benefits administration. Premium. FSA, HSA, HRA! Ahhhhh!"

Don't worry--we get it. Insurance can feel like a complicated mess. We got to know that pretty intimately while building Maxwell, which is why we're so set on transforming the way businesses manage benefits for the better. Health care reform can be an especially thorny issue for small retailers, who are technically not required to offer benefits to employees, but may be thinking about starting to as the individual mandate looms on the horizon.

Here’s a few pointers and insights on how offering benefits may be easier (and more important) than you think:

1. Employers with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees aren’t required to offer health benefits to employees. However, starting January 1, 2014, individuals without health insurance need to be enrolled, or they’ll face a penalty. Starting this October, you as a small-business owner can help employees secure coverage by enrolling in a group plan through the Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace (SHOP for short).

2. If you use the SHOP to secure coverage for employees and cover at least 50% of their premiums, you may qualify for a tax break of up to 50% of that contribution. If you’ve got less than 25 full-time equivalent employees making an average of about $50,000 a year or less, find out if you qualify for the tax credit by going to the IRS website.

3. Aflac's third annual WorkForces Report (full dataset here) found that workers in small-to-medium businesses feel generally uneasy and unprepared for upcoming changes due to health care reform, and highlights a pretty significant gap between employees and employers on benefits issues.

4. Surveyed employees are serious about their benefits, and not just when it comes to having good coverage. 79% of them say that a "well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave their jobs", as well as agreeing that they'd feel more informed about their benefits if they had the opportunity to sit with an insurance consultant.

5. And, somewhat shockingly, employers and employees have vastly different expectations about whose responsibility it actually is to educate workers on health care reform. Although 68% of employees feel confident their employer "will educate [them] about changes to [their] health care coverage as a result of health care reform", only 3% of surveyed employers said it's an important issue for their organization.

These last three points are vital takeaways because, like we agreed above, insurance is really complicated. So is health care reform, for that matter. Having a liaison who is 100% comfortable with the space and the ins and outs of reform can be hugely beneficial for small-business-owners who are handling benefits themselves. (Hint: that's where Maxwell comes in.)

Sara High Res.001.jpg

Sara Hopson

Marketing Manager at Maxwell Health

Sara is a free technology and service platform that simplifies benefits management for companies while saving them money and improving employee health. Our concierge service, built-in fun and friendly wellness program, and convenient mobile app make health care simple for employees and our benefits consulting paired with a consumer-friendly tech stack takes the stress out of managing benefits for small business owners.