Small Business

The Small Business Open Enrollment Guide

Published on December 20, 2019

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Although you can always enroll in a small business health insurance plan at any time throughout the year, Open Enrollment is a great opportunity to review health insurance options for yourself and your employees. This Small Business Open Enrollment Guide provides an overview of key factors for both employers and employees to consider when signing up for a new group health insurance plan or renewing current group health coverage.

When is Open Enrollment?

While small businesses can enroll in group health insurance plans at any time during the year, the Open Enrollment period serves as an optimal occasion to reevaluate medical coverage benefits.

After the Open Enrollment period for 2019 ends, any updates that employers or workers have made to their health insurance coverage become implemented starting on January 1, 2020.

Why look for small business health insurance during Open Enrollment?

Small business owners and their employees can use the Open Enrollment period to reevaluate their group health plan each year to find out if their current medical coverage still fits their needs.

Here are several important financial considerations that small businesses can think about as they shop for health plans and benefits during the Open Enrollment season.

Important coverage questions for your employees

During Open Enrollment, employees often have questions about their health benefits, such as whether they should keep their current plan or make needed adjustments. Here are a few key factors for both small business owners and employees to consider when thinking about making changes to their group health plan.

  • Dependents – Will employees be adding or removing any dependents, such as children or a spouse, from their health plans? Will the employer decide to contribute to qualified dependent coverage?
  • Expanded Coverage – Will there be new or expanded health coverage for dental or vision plans? Beyond health insurance, are life insurance or disability insurance coverage options being considered?
  • Added Benefits – Are any additional medical services or health benefits, such as telemedicine or wellness programs, being added to the company’s group health coverage?

How does a small business qualify for health insurance?

To qualify for small business health insurance coverage, an employer typically needs to meet the following 3 requirements:

  • Have at least 1 full-time employee, who is neither the business owner nor the spouse of the business owner
  • Be legally registered as a business according to your state’s regulations
  • Contribute at least 50 percent to monthly employee premiums

Note that group and employee definitions may vary by state and insurance company, so be sure to check with a licensed health insurance agent or broker for your specific situation.

How to enroll in a small business health insurance plan

To sign up for a group health plan during Open Enrollment, consider using the services of a small business health insurance broker or online health insurance marketplace, which is a public or private health exchange. These sources often provide quotes, tools, and resources to help you shop for and compare different health plan options. Other ways to enroll in a small business health plan include association health plans or professional membership organizations.

As employers begin the enrollment process, they should gather together the necessary paperwork and documentation for a small business health insurance application, which you can learn more about by consulting this helpful preparation checklist for small business health insurance.

To streamline the enrollment process, small business owners should:

  • Determine how many employees will receive coverage through a new or renewed health plan
  • Provide employees with health plan information prior to Open Enrollment to give them enough time to review and compare their insurance options
  • Periodically remind workers to submit their applications or make changes before the end of the Open Enrollment period

Overall, Open Enrollment serves as an excellent opportunity for both small business owners and employees to update and personalize their health insurance coverage benefits. To learn more about your options for quality, affordable health plans, visit eHealth.com or speak with one of our licensed health insurance agents.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting, or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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