Plan Your Benefits – Timing Is Everything

Plan Your Benefits – Timing Is Everything

The 4th of July is quickly approaching. The renewal date for your benefits is not until January 1. You’ve got plenty of time to get this done. Right? Maybe, but looking at your benefits package mid-year may be the best time to begin the process.

1. No changes to your benefits are scheduled for several months. It’s the perfect time to evaluate your entire package and to begin thinking about any changes that you would like to consider, or that your employees have been requesting. An employee survey can be quick and easy and often gives valuable (and sometimes surprising) insight into the perception of the benefits package. At the very least, it lets employees know that their opinion matters and that what they want is being considered.

2. Benefits can be expensive and are getting more and more complicated. Staying in compliance is always an issue. The best time to evaluate value and liability is when the heat is off, not when faced with the pressure of renewal.

3. Mid-year is the perfect time to consider health insurance programs, whether currently being offered or not. For companies with 50 or more FTE’s (full time equivalent employees), providing health insurance is not an option. The Affordable Care Act mandates that affordable health insurance be offered by these companies. So, let’s break this down:

A. Companies with more than 50 FTE’s are required to offer affordable health insurance to their employees. There are options, however. Depending on company demographics, a fully insured plan may be the best option. But in many cases, a self-funded, or partially self-funded (Level Premium Plan) may be the better value. The potential savings are worth the analysis to determine the most appropriate plan. This analysis should be completed before the renewal process begins.

B. Companies with less than 50 FTE’s are not required by law to offer health insurance. Is making health insurance a part of the benefits package a good idea? Careful analysis is the only way to answer this question and doing this analysis months in advance of renewal only makes sense. Companies often conclude that the value of their benefits package is enhanced by NOT offering health insurance.

To properly evaluate benefits and to communicate effectively with employees takes effort and planning. Giving yourself 30 or 60 days after you have received unfavorable renewal information leads to reactive decisions and hurried communication with employees. Benefits are too expensive and valuable to employees to be put on the backburner. Give yourself time to do this right. The 4th of July is the perfect time to plan for New Years.

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