Good reasons for providing
health plans for employees
By Tim Talevich
EVERY FIVE YEARS, the National Federation of ance, according to the survey.
Independent Business (NFIB) publishes a report • It helps employee recruitment. Offering
that lists the top problems facing small busi- access to health insurance can be a big entice-nesses, based on a poll of the organization’s mem- ment for prospective employees.
bers. The number-one concern for the past 20 Also, some employers reported that employees
years has been the same: the crippling cost of will accept slightly lower wages if health insurance
health insurance. is provided. And in terms of taxes, employees can
“There is no problem that creates more emo- benefit by paying premiums directly from their
tion than the rising cost of health insurance,” the paychecks, while employers can write off some
report states. insurance expenses.
What’s a business owner to do? While some Providing a health insurance plan is a matter of
small companies choose to drop employee health- protecting one of a company’s most vital assets—its
insurance plans, there are many strategic reasons to employees, says Jamie Amaral, national director of
keep them, experts advise. And smart companies can health, research and development for the NFIB
find ways to keep costs as low as possible (see sidebar (
www.NFIB.com ). It’s expensive and time-con-story,“Health insurance and Costco”). suming to hire and train employees, so it only
According to the Health Coverage Guide makes sense to work to keep them.
www.HealthCoverageGuide.org), published by the “Small businesses have to compete with large
California HealthCare Foundation, a survey of small- companies for the best employees,” says Amaral.
business owners found that offering health insurance “Finding employees—and keeping them—is a
for their employees has several key benefits. huge challenge.”
• It reduces absenteeism and decreases risks That’s the case with the Seattle Thunderbirds
associated with poor health in the long run. Hockey Club,aprofessionalminor-leaguehockey
When employees don’t have health insurance they team. The company offers a health-insurance
wait longer to seek treatment, which can lead to the program, purchased through Costco, to its 13
need to stay home from work or go out on disability, office employees.
the survey found. Healthy employees are less likely to “As a philosophy for our company, it’s impor-injure themselves and more likely to do their jobs well. tant to give our employees a well-rounded benefit
• It improves office atmosphere and morale. package to keep people wanting to stay with us,”
Employees tend to be happier and more satisfied explains Colin Campbell, the team’s vice president.
with their jobs when they are offered group insur- “Our employees are important to us.” C
Colin Campbell says the Seattle
Thunderbirds Hockey Club scores with
an employee health-insurance program
purchased through Costco.
LARR Y GILL
COSTCO HAS teamed up
with leading insurance companies to offer small-business health-insurance plans
to Executive Members in
California, Oregon, Hawaii,
Nevada and Washington. (In
Nevada and Washington,
some rural counties aren’t
covered.) The programs offer
a range of options to meet
Recently added to the
program are high-deductible
health plans (health savings
account qualified) in Washington, Oregon and Nevada.
The key features are:
Costco’s buying power
allows it to negotiate
competitive rates from
Quality. The service
features a comprehensive
network of hospitals and
physicians that meet high
standards of care.
Service. The program has
a dedicated sales and service
team to support participants.
Signing up is easy. Go to
costco.com, click “Services,”
then “Health Insurance.”
Coverage information is provided on the Web site. To get
an instant quote, just fill in
the online forms.
Also, maintaining the
account, such as adding
employees and billing, is
“In true Costco fashion,
we’re trying to simplify
the process and give our
members the best value,”
says Dellanie Fragnoli,
who oversees the program
For more information, call
toll-free 1-800-220-6000. C