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Small Business Insurance Buyer's Guide

A buyer's guide for self-employed and small business owners

Will I find cheaper rates elsewhere?

Because health insurance plan rates are filed with and regulated by your state Department of Insurance, you should pay the same monthly premium regardless of where you buy your insurance--from eHealth, your local agent, or directly from the health insurance company. This means that you can enjoy the advantages and convenience of shopping and purchasing your health insurance plan through eHealth and be sure that you're getting the best available price.

For the same plan, the premiums quoted on eHealthInsurance.com should match premiums quoted from any other source, assuming the requested employee information, effective dates, and plans selected are the same. If the premiums do not match, it's likely that the employee information entered is somehow different. If you are comparing our listed rates with those from another source, make sure that the same number of employees, spouses, and children was used in each quote, with the exact same ages and home zip codes. These details will affect the quote totals.

Can eHealth help me if I am already working with a broker?

If you already have a broker or have purchased a group health insurance plan in the past through a broker or health insurance company, eHealth can help you to maintain your current plan or find a new plan that meets your health insurance needs.

In addition:

  • eHealth provides you with world-class customer service.
  • eHealth is a platinum agent with many top health insurance companies.
  • eHealth has dedicated accounts managers to assist you.
  • Rates are regulated and do not vary by broker, so there's no additional cost to you.

How much does group health insurance cost?

The insurance company will determine the final monthly cost for your group health insurance plan once your application has been reviewed and approved. The insurance company will assess your group using a number of criteria, including the size and location of your company and the ages of your employees, to arrive at the final monthly rate, or premium. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the health of your employees, including pre-existing conditions, no longer impact group health insurance rates. Please note that your final monthly rate will be the same whether you apply through eHealth, another health insurance agent, or directly with the insurance company.

How much do I pay for group health insurance? How much do my employees pay?

Typically, an employer covers at least 50% of the employee's monthly premium. In these cases, the employee covers the remainder of his or her own premium and then covers the full premium for any of his or her dependents. Minimum employer contribution levels may differ from state to state and from one insurance company to the next. Also, some employers opt to cover a higher percentage of the employee's monthly premium and sometimes a portion of the premium costs for an employee's dependents.

During the application process, you'll be able to indicate how much of your employees' (and their dependents') monthly premiums you would like to cover.

How does Obamacare impact small businesses?

Under the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"), businesses with fewer than 50 full-time-equivalent employees aren't required to provide health insurance to their employees and won't face tax penalties for not doing so.

Small business employers may receive tax credits when they provide coverage, as follows:

  • Employers with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000, may be eligible for a special tax credit of up to 35% of the amount the employer contributes (at least 50%) toward employee insurance premiums.
  • In 2014, that tax credit increases to 50% for employers who pay at least 50% of their employees' monthly health insurance premiums.

Whether you offer health insurance to employees or not, it is absolutely critical that you make your employees aware of their obligation to seek health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And, you have to let your employees know that they have access to guaranteed coverage in the individual market, and that they may be eligible for government subsidies if the coverage you provide them is not deemed to be affordable under the law.

Beginning in 2015, businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees must provide "affordable" health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

What types of group health insurance plans does eHealth offer?

eHealth offers 500+ group health insurance plans from 30+ carriers throughout the United States. Our licensed agents shop and compare products from multiple insurers to find a solution that's optimal for each company's specific needs.

Group health insurance plans are categorized as either indemnity plans (also known as "traditional indemnity," "fee-for-service," or "FFS" plans) or managed care plans. Indemnity and managed care plans differ in their basic approach. Put broadly, the major differences concern choice of providers, out-of-pocket costs for covered services, and how bills are paid:

  • With an indemnity plan, you typically have a broader choice of doctors (including specialists, such as cardiologists and surgeons), hospitals, and other health care providers.
  • With a managed care plan, you typically have less out-of-pocket costs and paperwork.

Indemnity plans once dominated the American health insurance market, but are no longer as popular as they used to be; they are most common on the east coast. Managed care plans now take up a much larger share of the general health insurance market and are especially dominant in the western parts of the country. There are three basic types of managed care plans: PPOs, HMOs, and POS plans.

Health insurance companies are adapting their products to meet the new guidelines established by the Affordable Care Act. All new plans (offered to individuals or through the small group market to employers with 50 or fewer employees) will have to provide an Essential Health Benefits (or EHB) package. Licensed agents will be available at eHealth to assist small employers through the enrollment process and help answer questions related to health care reform.

What is the process for applying for group health insurance?

Here are the steps for selecting and applying for a group health insurance plan:

  1. Tell us about your company and employees on eHealthInsurance.com.
  2. We provide you with health insurance quotes for leading companies in your area.
  3. You then compare plan rates and benefits to find the plan that best meets your needs.
  4. You'll be able to speak with a licensed agent for personal help selecting a plan and starting the application process.

Who qualifies for group health insurance?

Your company will probably be eligible for a small business plan if it meets the following criteria:

  • Your company consists of at least two full-time owners, officers, partners, and/or employees, as verified by officially filed state quarterly wage and tax statements (e.g., NYS-45 in New York and DE-6 in California) or annual federal tax return documents.
  • Your company is a legitimate business entity (i.e., your company was formed for a purpose other than to obtain insurance), as verified by one of the following documents:
    • A business license or fictitious name filing (for proprietorships and partnerships)
    • Articles of incorporation (for corporations)
    • Articles of organization (for limited liability companies)
  • Your company meets the minimum employer contribution percentage set by the insurance company.

Please note that eligibility criteria may vary among insurance companies and by state. If you have any questions about your company's eligibility for a particular small business plan, please call one of our licensed representatives Mon - Fri, 5am to 9pm PT at 1-877-456-6670.

Do I have to provide health insurance for my employees?

Under the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"), businesses with fewer than 50 full-time-equivalent employees aren't required to provide health insurance to their employees and won't face tax penalties for not doing so.

But that doesn't mean small businesses should not, or will not, provide health insurance for employees. In fact, there are a number of good reasons why employers choose to provide health insurance today. First and foremost, many wise employers offer health insurance because it's better for their workforce. Health benefits allow them to recruit and retain talented employees who expect to get health insurance with a job. And, when employees have access to health care, they're more likely to take care of preventative care, which reduces illnesses, reduces absenteeism, and increases productivity.

In addition, small business employers may receive tax credits when they provide coverage, as follows:

  • Employers with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000, may be eligible for a special tax credit of up to 35% of the amount the employer contributes (at least 50%)toward employee insurance premiums.
  • In 2014, that tax credit increases to 50% for employers who pay at least fifty percent of their employees' monthly health insurance premiums.

Whether you offer health insurance to employees or not, it is absolutely critical that you make your employees aware of their obligation to seek health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. You also have to let your employees know that they have access to guaranteed coverage in the individual market and that they may be eligible for government subsidies if the coverage you provide them is not deemed to be affordable under the law.

Beginning in 2015, businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees must provide "affordable" health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Will my company get tax credits for group health insurance?

Employers with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000 may be eligible for a special tax credit of up to 35% of the amount the employer contributes (at least 50%) toward employee insurance premiums. And, in 2014, that tax credit increases to 50% for employers who pay at least 50% of their employees' monthly health insurance premiums.

Significant tax advantages may also be available to employers who offer group health insurance coverage to their employees:

  • Employers can generally deduct 100% of the health insurance premiums they pay on qualifying group health plans.
  • Providing health insurance coverage to employees as part of a total compensation package may also result in reduced payroll taxes for employers.

Additionally, when the employer offers group health coverage, it's possible for an employee's share of the premium to be paid with pre-tax dollars, resulting in tax savings for the employee as well.

Check with your accountant or tax advisor for specific tax benefits for your business and employees.

Do group health insurance plans include dental & vision?

Group health insurance plans don't include coverage for dental and vision, but these are often available as benefit riders that can be added to your group health insurance plan for additional fees. Once you select a group health insurance plan, you'll have the opportunity to view the additional insurance plans or riders that are available in your area.