Top Health Insurance for Small Businesses 2023 [Updated List]

Top Health Insurance for Small Businesses – Health insurance is a vital benefit that can help small business owners attract and retain talent, as well as protect their employees’ health and well-being. However, finding the right health insurance plan for a small business can be challenging, especially with the changing regulations and market conditions.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the health insurance options for small business owners in 2023, the requirements and costs involved, and the best health insurance providers to consider.

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Health Insurance Options for Small Business Owners

Small business owners have several options to choose from when it comes to providing health insurance to their employees. These include:

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

This is a program created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows small businesses with 1 to 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees to purchase health insurance plans through approved insurance companies. Some states may have different definitions of small businesses, such as California, which considers businesses with up to 100 FTE employees as small. SHOP plans are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and offer a variety of benefits and coverage levels. Small businesses that enroll in SHOP may also qualify for tax credits to help pay for their employees’ premiums.

Private Health Insurance Market

Small businesses can also buy health insurance plans directly from private insurance companies or through brokers or agents. These plans may offer more flexibility and customization than SHOP plans, but they may also be more expensive or have fewer benefits. Private health insurance plans are subject to state and federal regulations, such as the ACA’s essential health benefits and minimum value standards.

Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

These are arrangements that allow small businesses to reimburse their employees for their individual health insurance premiums or medical expenses. HRAs are not considered health insurance plans, but rather employer-funded accounts that can be used to pay for qualified health care costs. There are different types of HRAs, such as Qualified Small Employer HRAs (QSEHRAs), Individual Coverage HRAs (ICHRAs), and Excepted Benefit HRAs (EBHRAs), each with its own rules and limits. HRAs can be a cost-effective and flexible option for small businesses that want to offer health benefits without purchasing a group plan.

Self-Funded Health Plans

These are plans that are funded and administered by the employer, rather than by an insurance company. Self-funded plans allow small businesses to have more control over their healthcare costs and benefits, but they also entail more risk and responsibility. Self-funded plans are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), rather than by state laws, and may be exempt from some ACA requirements. However, self-funded plans must still comply with federal laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Health Insurance Requirements for Small Business Owners

Small business owners are not legally required to provide health insurance to their employees, but there are some rules and incentives that may affect their decision. These include:

Employer Shared Responsibility Provision

This is a provision of the ACA that requires employers with 50 or more FTE employees to offer affordable and adequate health insurance to their full-time employees and their dependents or pay a penalty. This provision is also known as the employer mandate or the pay-or-play rule. The penalty amount for 2023 is $2,700 per full-time employee who receives a premium tax credit in the Marketplace, minus the first 30 employees. The penalty amount is adjusted annually for inflation.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

This is a tax credit that helps eligible small businesses pay for their employees’ health insurance premiums. To qualify for this credit, small businesses must have fewer than 25 FTE employees, pay average wages of less than $55,000 per year, and pay at least 50% of their employees’ premiums for a qualified health plan purchased through SHOP. The maximum credit amount for 2023 is 50% of the employer’s premium payments or 35% for tax-exempt employers. The credit amount is reduced for employers with more than 10 FTE employees or average wages above $27,500 per year.

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Tax Credit

This is a tax credit that helps eligible small businesses pay for their employees’ health insurance premiums for plans purchased through SHOP. To qualify for this credit, small businesses must have fewer than 25 FTE employees, pay average wages of less than $55,000 per year, and pay at least 50% of their employees’ premiums for a qualified health plan purchased through SHOP. The maximum credit amount for 2023 is 50% of the employer’s premium payments or 35% for tax-exempt employers. The credit amount is reduced for employers with more than 10 FTE employees or average wages above $27,500 per year. This credit is the same as the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, but it is only available for plans purchased through SHOP.

Health Insurance Costs for Small Business Owners

The cost of health insurance for small business owners depends on several factors, such as the type and size of the plan, the number and characteristics of the employees, the benefits and coverage levels, and the location and market conditions. According to a 2021 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance plans were $7,470 for single coverage and $21,342 for family coverage. The average employer contribution was 83% for single coverage and 74% for family coverage. The average employee contribution was $1,243 for single coverage and $5,588 for family coverage. These averages may vary significantly depending on the specific plan and employer.

Top Health Insurance for Small Businesses

There are many health insurance providers that offer plans for small business owners, but some may stand out more than others based on their features, services, and customer satisfaction. Based on our research and analysis, here are some of the best health insurance providers for small business owners in 2023:

UnitedHealthcare

This is the largest health insurance provider in the U.S., with a network of over 1.3 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and care facilities. UnitedHealthcare offers a variety of plans for small businesses, including HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, HDHP, and HSA options. UnitedHealthcare also provides online tools and resources to help employers and employees manage their healthcare needs, such as telehealth services, wellness programs, mobile apps, and customer support. UnitedHealthcare has a low customer complaint ratio and an A (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best.

Blue Cross Blue Shield

This is a federation of 36 independent health insurance companies that operate in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a wide range of plans for small businesses, including HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, HDHP, and HSA options. Blue Cross Blue Shield also has one of the largest networks in the country, with more than 1.7 million doctors and hospitals. Blue Cross Blue Shield also provides online tools and resources to help employers and employees manage their healthcare needs, such as telehealth services, wellness programs, mobile apps, and customer support. Blue Cross Blue Shield has a low customer complaint ratio and an A+ (Superior) rating from A.M. Best.

Aetna

This is one of the leading health insurance providers in the U.S., with a network of over 1.2 million health care professionals and 5,700 hospitals. Aetna offers a variety of plans for small businesses, including HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, HDHP, and HSA options. Aetna also provides online tools and resources to help employers and employees manage their health care needs, such as telehealth services, wellness programs, mobile apps, and customer support. Aetna has a high customer complaint ratio but an A- (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best.

Kaiser Permanente

This is the largest managed care organization in the U.S., with a network of over 23,000 physicians and 39 hospitals. Kaiser Permanente offers integrated healthcare plans for small businesses that combine medical care and insurance in one package. Kaiser Permanente also provides online tools and resources to help employers and employees manage their healthcare needs, such as telehealth services, wellness programs, mobile apps, and customer support. Kaiser Permanente has a low customer complaint ratio and an A+ (Superior) rating from A.M. Best.

Cigna

This is a global health service company that operates in more than 30 countries and has a network of over 1.5 million healthcare professionals and 15,000 facilities. Cigna offers a variety of plans for small businesses, including HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, HDHP, and HSA options. Cigna also provides online tools and resources to help employers and employees manage their healthcare needs, such as telehealth services, wellness programs, mobile apps, and customer support. Cigna has a high customer complaint ratio but an A (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best.

In conclusion, These are some of the best health insurance providers for small business owners in 2023, but there may be other options that suit your specific needs and preferences. You can compare different plans and providers using online tools such as [HealthCare.gov], [eHealth], or [HealthMarkets]. You can also consult with a licensed agent or broker to help you find the best health insurance plan for your small business.

Frequently Asked Questions (F&Qs)