Employee Medical Insurance Advice for Start-Ups

Heartfelt thanks to Company.com for creating this post especially for Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

This is the health care post that has nothing (well, very little) to do with the ongoing discussions about the Healthcare Bill, whether it's good or bad, whether it's a blessing or a curse, whether it's constitutionally sound, or a blight on the pockets of future generations. This is the health care post that's about what you need to consider when choosing a medical insurance provider for your company's employees.
 
Deciding on a medical insurance provider is hard. You have to think about deductibles, when to offer it to new employees, how to make it affordable to your team, and after you narrow down the list, you still have to pick one.
 
Using an agent or broker will help. An agent who works with a single company will be able to get you a great deal with that one company, but a broker who sells the plans offered by multiple companies will be able to get you the best range of services. It's a trade-off, but both of them want your business, and competition = a good thing.
 
Your state should have a list of registered insurance agents. Before you call or sit down with an agent, make sure they're on the list. This doesn't guarantee that they know what they're doing, but it guarantees that they're licensed to sell insurance in your state, which is almost as good.
 
When you call the insurance sales agent or broker, they should be able to give you a basic quote for service over the phone, with numbers that reflect real life with a good degree of accuracy.
 
No agent or broker wants to talk to you for an hour and have nothing to show for it, so expect them to want to close the deal with you. Don't fall for it, take a day to think about things, compare deals. No reputable agent is going to force you to make a snap decision on something this important.
 
Coverage will vary from plan to plan, from provider to provider. Make sure that you know what's covered under each plan and that you understand what is not covered before you make a decision.
 
For the most part, you pay for what you get with medical insurance. If one provider is offering you some spectacular coverage at a fraction of the cost of their competitors, you might want to take a very close look at it to make sure it's legit.
 
If an agent or broker starts talking about “limited” or “low-cost” plans and not major “medical plans,” run.  The terms tend to mean that hospital stays and other costs are subject to a daily limit – the extra is on you.  

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Company.com's efforts span a range of endeavors, including electronic transaction processing, Internet social networking, online banking, software as a service (SaaS) development, healthcare management, finance and venture investment, Internet games, and the ERP software development and distribution industries.

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