Like many Americans, small business owners nationwide are still trying to figure out how to deal with the new federal health insurance mandate, and how it ultimately affects them. However, some are being a lot more proactive than others, and are trying to cut the costs they pay for healthcare coverage in a number of creative ways.
The concern shared by many entrepreneurs across the country is that their companies might face far higher costs as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's mandates about the ways in which businesses must offer their employees health insurance, according to a report from USA Today. One of the ways in which many are now able to do so and which is gaining popularity, even in the face of rising premiums passed on to workers or taken on by the companies themselves, is through employer-sponsored wellness programs.
These typically involve setting goals for employees' general health in several ways, or sometimes just a few, such as by creating exercise programs designed to help workers lose weight, or go for more regular health checkups, the report said. This kind of thing can be incentivized with extra days off or other workplace bonuses employees might take to happily, and have largely been shown to reduce company health costs
"Health care costs have become such a large part of the expense pie for companies that offering cost-effective wellness programs to employees make a lot of sense," Tim Church, director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, told the newspaper. "If you can prevent [serious] health conditions or identify and treat them early and aggressively, you are going to have a happier, healthier employee, and in the long run, it will save you money."
How prevalent are they?
In the past several years or more, as healthcare costs have surged for individuals and businesses alike, many companies both large and small have decided to at least try to enact these initiative, and those which have are finding significant success, the report said. About half of all companies with 50 or more workers now have some sort of wellness program in place, and a recent study by the Rand Corporation showed that participation over a five-year period in one can reduce personal health insurance costs by an average of $157 per person. In addition, they typically enjoy better health and perhaps even more workplace contentedness as a result.
It's therefore possible that smaller companies that learn about such programs might have similar success to their larger competitors, the report said. However, those bigger businesses might also have the advantage of offering more diverse options and incentives, and therefore it might be wise for independent enterprises to ask their employees what they think about participating in such programs and what they'd prefer to see as the options and bonuses they could earn for enrolling.
Of course, many companies these days might be worried about growing insurance costs even beyond those for health coverage, and as such, it might be wise for owners to look into more affordable options. Finding lower-cost small business insurance policies, such as those for workers' compensation or general liability insurance, may go a long way toward helping companies to better secure their bottom lines, as doing so can help to save thousands of dollars or more per year. Therefore, entrepreneurs who take the time to shop around for the most affordable coverage may be doing themselves and their companies a world of good.