Sift through the options to find the coverage you need at a price you can afford
by Ron Lent
Offering health coverage to employees can be expensive and complicated, but the payoff can be significant enough that it's worth looking into.
It differentiates your company from competitors that don't offer health benefits and allows you to compete with those that do; consequently, it may help you recruit and retain the best talent, says James Gelfand, senior manager of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He notes that 75 percent of employees rated health care as their most important benefit in the National Business Group on Health's 2007 worker survey.
Having healthy staff is another reason to make this investment. Gelfand says, "It's in the employer's best interest to have healthy employees. Sick employees miss work, and if they do come to work they don't work to their maximum potential. Healthy employees are more productive, and offering a sound health-benefits package helps to ensure that employees have access to the care that they need."
Still, despite all the arguments in favor of providing health insurance, cost is a big obstacle for small businesses to overcome. Giovanni Coratolo, director of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, points out, "Health care rates from year to year rise faster than inflation."
In addition, finding the best health care coverage for your company "can be downright intimidating.
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