By Alison Nelson, Employee Benefits Account Manager
Alaska may be a big state, but it’s made of over 74,587 small businesses. In fact, according to the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.1% of Alaska businesses are considered to be small businesses, and that equates to 138,517 small business employees. That’s a lot of employees who will likely want employee benefits, specifically health insurance.
It can be overwhelming to look for insurance options for your employees but that’s why one of the most important steps is finding an insurance broker that you trust, like RISQ Consulting. The team at RISQ is happy to do the research and heavy lifting so that you can focus on your business and employees. No matter who you work with, there are a few key things to know when it comes to finding health insurance for your small business.
In the realm of health insurance, a small business is classified as having 1-50 employees. This segment is often referred to as the “metallic” segment. “Metallic” is a reference to the names of most plans available to small groups, often containing names like “gold”, “silver”, or “bronze”.
Within the small group market, or metallic segment, there are only a handful of carriers readily available in Alaska – Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Moda Health, Allstate, United Healthcare, and Aetna. When you decide to quote with one of these carriers, you’ll need a census that shows all employees and dependents who intend on enrolling on the insurance plan. From there, the insurance carrier will use the information provided on the census to generate a proposal with rates.
Once you have the various proposals, you can compare the carrier rates and decide which plan is best for your business and employees. Some details to pay attention to is which hospital in Anchorage is considered the preferred hospital, what value-added services are provided by the carrier, and if there are any notable inclusions or exclusions on your insurance plan of interest.
It’s important to note that in the fully insured metallic segment, the insurance rates will be the same no matter who your insurance broker is. This means that if you hear that someone else can get you a better rate for the same plan, with the same census, something is amiss. The importance of a good insurance broker is that they can help navigate the world of insurance for you and ensure that you’re offering fair and competitive benefits for your employees. A good broker also provides support for your plan year round, not just at implementation or renewal.
Insurance can be confusing, but RISQ Consulting is here to navigate this process with you. Who knows, once you find the perfect health plan for your business, you may want to venture into ancillary benefits like dental, vision, or disability, and we can help with that too!