Your small business is running well; you’re beginning to see results; your team is growing. As an owner, you want to reward those who have been with you long term, and add value to team members looking to join you. A benefits plan will help you do both, but where do you start? Not all plans are equal, so here are some key factors you should examine.

1. Coverage & Flexibility

The first decision you need to make is the type of plan you want. Different types of firms have different priorities, and different industries may follow certain trends. Value is just as important as price, so consider a custom plan that offers flexibility now, and in the future. You’re more likely to use benefits that you choose.

2. Guarantees

Look for a plan with the fewest exclusions and the most assurances, like guaranteed coverage or benefits that don’t require medical questionnaires. This makes your coverage more valuable in the long term. Different providers offer different employee thresholds. Guaranteed coverage makes the process more streamlined for all.

3. Premium Stability

Most benefit plans are experienced rated, meaning premiums are based on your company’s individual claims. But if you only have a few employees, and they have large claims, your rates could rise dramatically. To help keep your premiums more stable from year to year, look for a pooled plan where premiums are based on the average of claims across all participants, spreading the risk.

4. Simplicity of Enrollment

You are excited about putting your plan in place, but you don’t want the process to be overly cumbersome. Make sure you choose a plan that makes enrolling straightforward for you and your team. Make sure the forms required are painless, and there is flexibility regarding when the plan can start, and when benefits can be used.

5. Online Tools & Claims

Look for plans that provide quick claim payments and online services. Direct deposit, smartphone apps, and online portals make plan users’ lives easier. Look for online health & wellness tools, as well as the ability to make basic changes and view plan details. The higher quality the plan, the more efficient and convenient the online services will be.

6. Value Added Services

As you venture beyond traditional options, a plan can stand out with value add services. Ask if you can include Health Spending Accounts, Cost Plus, Business & Employee Assistance Programs, and Retiree & Continuation options. Factors such as payroll integration or the plan being a not-for-profit can have significant impacts on its efficiency.

7. Local Service & Administration

No client prefers calling a 1-800 number. Make sure your plan advisor is nearby and on the same time zone. Having your representative available by phone, email, or in person can take administrative tasks off of you or your staff. Utilize your knowledgeable advisor to educate your staff on plan details, conduct plan reviews and renewal reports and ensure that your plan continues to meet your needs as the company evolves.

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