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June 20, 2014
Health Insurance for Employees
The cost of healthcare for employers has been rising astronomically over recent years, making it difficult for small businesses to continue offering health coverage to employees.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)/Health Research & Educational Trust 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey found that annual premiums for family health coverage average more than $16,000. This is up 4% from last year and costs nearly $10,000 more than it did 10 years ago.

Unfortunately for employees, employers are offering more high-deductible plans and not covering as much of the cost as they were able to before.

Small businesses consisting of less than 50 employees, though, are not required by law to provide employees with health coverage. Because of rising expenses, KFF found that only 57% of businesses with 199 or fewer employees offered health insurance.

Ways employers are dealing with rising costs

Some employers, such as UPS, are no longer covering spouses if the spouse has a job that offers health insurance.

While this may seem harsh, it could potentially save the company a good amount of money each year. For employees that do not have a working spouse, their spouse will still be covered under the plan.

KFF found that the average annual deductible that employees pay before insurance comes into play has doubled in the past seven years. By making employees pay a higher deductible, health expenses for the company are slightly reduced.

To help offset the costs to employees from higher deductibles, some employers offer health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts to help employees pay deductibles and copays.

Other companies are shifting healthcare expenses to top earners in the company.

In other words, employees that make the least amount of money will pay the least amount in premiums, and employees that make the most money will pay the highest premiums.

This strategy allows companies to still offer good health insurance without taking on additional expenses, since the highest-paid employees will take them on.

Companies can also encourage a healthy lifestyle in the office and consider offering incentives.

For example, companies can offer employees that meet health goals (such as committing to a workout program or quitting smoking) a discount on their yearly premiums.

Employees also need to be aware of how life changes impact health insurance.

If you're about to get married, for example, see if your company will cover your spouse. Research if it's cheaper to stay on your own plans or be on a family plan. Other life changes include having a baby, death, and divorce.

Will employers lose quality employees?

The fact of the matter is that employers that offer good healthcare coverage are going to attract more qualified candidates.

Health insurance is vital for many Americans, especially those with families. By helping offset some of the costs — such as offering discounts to those who live a healthy lifestyle or offering high-deductible plans — employers are more likely to retain and continue attracting good candidates.

Stay involved and up-to-date with health insurance policies, keep your employees in the know, and do what you can to help limit expenses for both employees and your business.

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Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ with her husband and two daughters. She's passionate about writing, traveling, cooking and spending time with her family. Her writing topics include food and nutrition, travel, personal finance and small business. Sites she writes for include ripoffreport.com and those discussing college degrees.
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