When it comes to health insurance coverage, a small business is generally considered an employer with one to 50 employees. This excludes the owner, their spouse, and any family members.
Health insurance helps individuals pay for routine check-ups, preventative care, and medical emergencies. Health benefits consistently top the list of desired job perks, and workers commonly rely on employer-provided coverage for themselves as well as their families.
Many small business owners provide their employees with group health insurance as a way to attract and retain talent. You can use the Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP) to find ACA-compliant group plans, which you can offer to employees by purchasing coverage with help from an agent or broker. A SHOP plan is the only way to qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit if you meet the eligibility requirements.
If you can’t find a plan on the SHOP marketplace, you can find one directly through insurance company websites.
If you offer SHOP coverage, you must offer it to all full-time employees and have an office or worksite in the state where you’re applying for coverage. Not all providers offer SHOP plans, and they may not be available everywhere. Whether you decide to enroll in a SHOP plan or another group health insurance plan, you’ll want to choose a reputable company that prioritizes your employees and their healthcare needs.
Hence, if you’re looking for a health insurance provider for your small business, navigating the sheer number of plans, policies and industry jargon may seem daunting at first blush. Business Yield has evaluated companies based on the benefits they provide and their third-party ratings, so you can choose the right health insurance partner for your small business.
Best health insurance for small business
Blue Cross Blue Shield
With coverage in every U.S. ZIP code and a variety of national networks to choose from, Blue Cross Blue Shield can meet the needs of almost any business. However, since BCBS is a group of companies, benefits vary by region, as do customer satisfaction ratings. This is why it is important to evaluate your BCBS company for issues like customer complaints.
BCBS workplace wellness programs vary by state. For example, BCBS Mississippi trains company leaders to teach fitness classes and offers a significant reduction in health insurance premiums for employees who commit to working out at least twice per week. Other benefit offerings vary by region as well, but Anthem offers 24/7 virtual care, a convenient mobile app, a variety of plan types, and the option to bundle health coverage with dental, vision, life, and/or disability insurance.
The Blue365 discount program provides your employees with robust discounts on wellness-related products and services.
- Nationwide availability
- Wide provider network
- Offers a variety of workplace wellness programs
- Blue365 provides employees with discounts on health products and services
- J.D. Power rating varies by region
UnitedHealthcare (UHC) is the largest health insurance provider in the nation, offering plans for group coverage in all 50 U.S. states. Here are just some of the reasons why it is one of the best health insurance companies for small businesses:
- National medical network – UHC has an extensive network of doctors and hospitals, making their health care services more accessible for members of small business plans.
- Technology resources – Many UHC group plans include Virtual Visits, which facilitate online health care and doctor consultations through computers, mobile devices, or tablets.
- Member wellness programs – UHC offers a wide variety of programs to keep its programs healthy. Partnerships with wellness and fitness companies such as Peloton encourage employees to set personal goals and get rewarded for reaching them. Members can also access to benefits like counseling and coaching for smoking cessation and weight loss.
- Employer resources – UHC makes it easy for business owners to navigate benefits with employer tools like Employer eServices and other administrative tools.
Overall, UnitedHealthcare offers effective group coverage options for many small businesses.
- An extensive network of healthcare providers
- Benefit options for part-time and seasonal employees
- Virtual therapy and specialty healthcare are available
- A diverse suite of products and services including helpful in-app services
- Legal issues over wrongfully denied claims
- Does not offer a platinum plan health insurance policy
Available in 14 U.S. states, Anthem is the largest for-profit managed healthcare company in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. It has one of the country’s most extensive networks, meaning that many of your small business employees may already have their doctors within the Anthem network.
- Integrated health care – Anthem takes an integrated approach to medical care through combined health plans, which connect patient data in order to more effectively manage care.
- Smart tools – With Anthem’s online tools, employees can conveniently find doctors, schedule video visits, or have their questions answered by calling Anthem’s 24/7 NurseLine.
- Members also have access to Anthem’s Sydney Health app, which makes it easy to schedule visits, access benefits information, and attend telehealth visits from one location.
- Health resources – Anthem’s website has a large collection of resources to help its members stay healthy, active, and informed. Find information on topics like mental health, Medicare, caregiver support, navigating health insurance, and more. Anthem even has an easy-to-use Health Care Calendar that lets you enter your age and gender to get recommendations on preventive screenings and immunizations that are tailored for you, based on current health guidelines.
With Anthem, you and your employees benefit from the advantages of a major medical network, as well as resources that help with managing your group’s medical plans.
Oscar makes it easy for employees to request virtual care from a convenient mobile app, and with most plans, there’s no cost to talk to a doctor online. Employees can also use the app to refill their prescriptions, message their care team, track their deductibles, and even get rewarded for meeting their step goals.
What’s more, Oscar has partnered with Cigna to give members access to the company’s national and local provider networks. You can give your employees two network options, both of which don’t require specialist referrals and which include the Cigna Behavioral Health Network.
However, availability is limited to a few different states, cities, and metro areas: Georgia, Tennessee, Connecticut, select Arizona counties, select California counties, the Philadelphia metro area, Kansas City, Chicago, and St. Louis.
- $0 virtual urgent care available 24/7
- Access to Cigna’s network with no referrals needed
- A convenient mobile app with rewards for walking
- Limited geographical availability
Humana is one of the largest health insurance providers in America and one of the best health insurance companies for small businesses due to its many group coverage plans. As a small business benefit provider, Humana’s plans generally include these benefits:
- Preventative care advantages: In-network preventative care appointments are 100% covered by all Humana group medical plans. This may include services such as diabetic retinal eye exams, bone density tests to check for osteoporosis, mammograms, and more.
- Humana Neighborhood Centers: One unique feature about Humana plans is that members may have access to its “Neighborhood Centers.” These are sites that offer various programs, events, exercise classes, and other services to help members stay healthy and active. The centers are meant to foster community, and most services are available for free. Many locations also have on-site customer care to help members with their Humana benefit questions.
- Convenient plan features: Other features in all Humana group health insurance plans include wellness rewards, virtual doctor visits, and access to Humana Pharmacy services.
Humana offers a variety of affordable small business health insurance plans for small employers and their employees. If you’re looking for the best health insurance for small business, it’s another contender.
Offering health insurance in eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Kaiser Permanente is a major health insurance company that provides quality group health plans to its members.
- Affordability – Since Kaiser Permanente is the largest managed care organization in the nation, it can offer a significant number of affordable small business health insurance plans and options.
- Flexibility – Many Kaiser Permanente HMO group health plans, HSAs, and HRAs feature lower premiums and tax savings, and their PPO plans include added flexibility when choosing doctors.
- Health and wellness resources – Kaiser has one of the largest databases of health information. Learn more about mental health, caregiving, life care planning, and more in one location. You can also find programs if you need assistance with healthcare costs, food, housing, and more.
- Online tools – Kaiser offers many online tools to help you care you need. You can search your care options by symptom and receive recommendations for treatment. Kaiser’s My Doctor Online app lets you message your doctors and nurses 24/7, access virtual services, or get appointment reminders from the convenience of your phone.
For employers looking for one of the best small business health insurance companies for managed care services, Kaiser Permanente group coverage plans are among the top options.
- Low prices for equivalent plan options
- Wide range of available plans
- Highly ranked for quality
- Only available in eight states and Washington D.C.
- Closed group structure can limit care options
If you’re looking for more plan flexibility and the possibility of greater savings, Aetna is a top pick for self-insured funding options. Self-funding with Aetna can save you as much as 25% on monthly costs, plus the insurer returns 50% of the surplus to your business. At the same time, stop-loss insurance protects you from unaffordable costs.
HSA accounts are also available to employees, as are $0 copays for many MinuteClinic services. However, keep in mind that some fully insured groups don’t get the same benefits.
Aetna also offers a suite of tools to members of self-insured plans, including a convenient mobile app that can provide rewards for reaching personalized goals, virtual care through Teladoc, and virtual fitness classes. The company also has an A (Excellent) financial strength rating with AM Best, and an average 3.3 NCQA star rating for its commercial plans, which indicates above-average member satisfaction.
You can get group dental coverage through the provider as well. But Aetna’s group plans aren’t available everywhere.
- Offers self-insured funding options
- Offers a suite of more than 70 wellness programs
- Dedicated support for new business onboarding
- $0 MinuteClinic copays for self-insured members
- MinuteClinic benefits are not available to fully insured groups in some states
How to get affordable small business health insurance
For small business owners looking for a more affordable option, ICHRA (Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement) plans may be a good choice. With this plan, employers give their workers a set amount to be used towards buying healthcare. After buying their own health plan, they are reimbursed with pre-tax money from the employer.
Small business owners may prefer ICHRA plans because these programs are often more competitively priced than traditional employer group plans. On the other end, employees may prefer this option because they have the flexibility to choose the plan they want and can decide how they want to spend the reimbursement money.
You can also use insurance brokers like eHealth to find the right group coverage for your small business. It offers free health quotes, with no obligation and no broker fees. The eHealth website lets you compare plans for group coverage from multiple providers all in one place. This empowers you to find the best small business health insurance for your company and employees.
To find affordable small business health insurance plans in your area, enter your ZIP code and number of employees on the eHealth small business health insurance page to get instant access to free quotes. You can also speak with one of their licensed insurance agents, who can assist you with finding the optimal health plan for your business. Our trusted licensed insurance agents have years of experience under their belt and are ready to help you with any questions you may have.
- Business Insurance: Definition, Types & What Does It Cover?
- Small Business Insurance: What Is It & How Does It Work?
- How to Get Small Business Insurance: Complete Guide