We’ve all seen the headlines. Napping pods at Google. Unlimited vacation at Netflix. Four months of paid parental leave at Ikea. These benefits catch the eye of everyone, but not every business can afford them.

Most small businesses are simply incapable of spending money on napping pods or four months of paid leave. Still, you don’t have to lose hope just yet. While these benefits are popular with employees, they aren’t the benefit your worker’s want most.

So, what benefit do employees really care about? According to a survey by Glassdoor, a company’s health insurance has the greatest effect on how employees rate their benefits.

If your company is looking to improve its benefits plan start with health coverage. Affordable health insurance not only supports your business objectives, it’s also the most valuable benefit for most of your staff.

Health Coverage is Still Tops

As previously stated, health insurance is still the king of the employee benefits world. This trend is only likely to continue as health care costs continue to rise. In 2015, U.S. health care costs totaled $3.2 trillion.

This total translates to an average of $9,990 a year per person. Your employees are spending more on healthcare than they ever have before. Businesses are also feeling these rising costs. Health insurance is usually the most expensive employee benefit to provide.

According to Zanebenefits, employers paid an average of $5,179 annually for a single employee and $12,591 annually for a family. These costs, when multiplied by your eligible employees can become exorbitant.

The effects of these rising costs are responsible for the importance that is now placed on health insurance. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 30 percent of HR professionals said that health care was their primary strategic focus, within their employee benefits package.

As previously stated employees are thinking about their health insurance as much as their employers. A 2017 survey by Fractl reinforced this theory.

The survey discovered that 88 percent of employees would give at least some consideration to a company’s health insurance when deciding between a high-paying job, and that was lower-paying but had better benefits.

A recent MetLife study found similar results. The survey found that 61 percent of employees who said they are “very satisfied” with their company were satisfied because of their health benefits.

Group Health Insurance

A group health insurance policy is purchased by an employer and offered to eligible employees, and the eligible dependents of those employees. With group health insurance, employers select the insurance plan(s).

Premium costs are then split between the employer and employee. Group health plans are a tremendous tool for providing your staff medical coverage. In fact, group health insurance has become the main source coverage for a majority of working Americans.

Last year, 56 percent of non-elderly Americans had group health insurance coverage through their employer or the employer of a family member.

Group health insurance is generally cheaper than individual insurance because it helps mitigate risk. This occurs because the risk is spread over an entire “group” rather than a single individual or a family.

We know that affordable health insurance is an important benefit for your employees. But why is it important to them, and how does it help your business?

Benefits of Health Insurance for Businesses

There is a reason that companies offered health insurance to their employees, even before it was part of the law. Here are the four biggest of those reasons.

1. Compliance

In 2010, health insurance, and the healthcare landscape as a whole underwent a drastic change. When Congress and President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into existence, it was an instant game changer.

Now, companies with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees are subject to the ACA’s “employer mandate”. The mandate, requires companies of this size, to provide health insurance coverage to at least 95 percent of its full-time workers and their dependent children.

If your business is not compliant with the employer mandate, you may be penalized up to $2,000 per full-time employee.

2. Attraction

We’re not saying that providing health insurance to your employees is a spell that will make your staff fall deeply in love with your company and their position. Rather, a good health plan is a foundation for a recruit’s attraction to your organization.

As previously stated, health insurance is crucial in employees’ minds. To attract the best recruits, your company is going to need a generous health insurance plan. A policy with low or no-cost to employees is an especially strong recruitment tool.

3. Retention

A robust health policy is essential for both employee attraction and retention. It’s obviously great to attract top-notch talent, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t keep them around.

According to UnicornHRO, employees simply do not tolerate a lack of health insurance. A recent survey found that almost 90 percent of employees with health benefits stated they would begin seeking employment elsewhere if they lost their health benefits.

Clearly, if you want to keep your top employees, your business will need some type of employee health insurance plan.

4. Money

This point may seem paradoxical, considering we have already discussed the increasingly exorbitant cost of providing your staff with health insurance. Still, health insurance may not necessarily be as expensive as you think.

The cost of medical coverage is reduced thanks to the fact that it is a tax-deductible business expense. Your company can write off the cost of this coverage as an income tax deduction.

This deduction means that your business expense is usually less than the value of the health care benefit to your employee.

5. Productivity

Last, but certainly not least, providing health insurance to your employees can help to increase or maintain your company’s level of productivity. Healthy employees save your company money.

Health insurance can improve physical health, reduce absenteeism, and boost employee engagement and satisfaction. All of these factors add up to enhance your firm’s overall productivity.

Without health insurance, your employees are more likely to come to work sick, stressed because of medical bills, or miss work entirely. Show your workers that you care about their health, and the health of their loved ones, through medical coverage.

Benefits of Health Insurance for Employees

Employer-sponsored health care insurance is an extremely effective employee benefit. This benefit is so powerful because it impacts multiple facets of your staffs’ lives. These are the top three benefits affordable health insurance provides your employees.

1. Money

What’s the point of any insurance company? To spread risk and save the average person money when they go to the doctor, dentist, etc. Group health insurance, in particular, allows your employees to save an additional amount.

Because of health insurance, your employees can avoid debt due to large, unexpected medical bills. Additionally, health insurance is a tax-free benefit. This status increases the actual value your staff receives the benefit.

3. Physical Health

This one seems fairly obvious, right? If your staff has health insurance, they are more likely to seek and receive medical care. When people don’t have to worry about paying the entire cost of their medical care they are more at ease receiving treatment.

The truth is much deeper, though. The Institute of Medicine conducted a three-year study on the effects of insurance on individuals and their families.

3. Mental Health

Health insurance is a positive factor in both physical and mental health. Medication, mental health screenings, and therapy are usually covered under health insurance.

Similarly, the money that health insurance saves your employees is another protection for their mental health. Money troubles are a huge cause of stress, and paying for healthcare is often a cause of these troubles.

Even with more Americans covered under the ACA, many are still having trouble paying their medical bills. According to a 2016 report from the Kauffman Family Foundation, over a quarter of Americans said that someone in their household is struggling to pay medical debt.

This kind of financial stress can wreak havoc on an individual’s workplace performance. It is estimated that stress costs businesses an average of $300 billion a year due to stress-related health care and missed work.

The Wrap

If your company is considering adding an eye-catching perk, consider investing that money in top-notch health coverage, instead. Affordable health insurance provides your employees and business with copious benefits.

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The Olson Group is a benefits advising firm that helps clients build employee benefit programs that attract & retain top employees. https://theolsongroup.com/