Best Small Business Health Insurance In 2023

small business health insurance
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Offering health insurance to your employees may be helpful if you manage a small business and are trying to recruit and retain staff. Which health insurance provider then, is ideal for small business owners? You’ll learn these and more on the cost of small business health insurance in this article.

How Does Small Business Health Insurance Work?

A small business is one with less than 50 full-time employees (FTE), according to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). California defines small enterprises as those that employ no more than 100 FTE. Although it is not compulsory by law for small business owners to offer health insurance to their employees, there are guidelines for those who do.

A small business owner signs up for a group health insurance plan provided by a private insurance provider and then provides their staff with the option to do the same. Employees are often liable for their deductibles, copays, and any services not covered by the plan, while the employer contributes to a portion of their monthly premiums.

Options for Small Business Health Insurance

Due to the Affordable Care Act, small business owners can use the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to purchase health insurance for their employees from licensed insurance providers. Employers can offer health plans from various insurance providers by purchasing insurance through the SHOP Marketplace, which also qualifies them for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, which can help with the cost of providing coverage.

To be eligible for the SHOP tax credit, your company must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Fewer than 25 FTEs (full-time equivalents)
  • The average annual wage for employees must be roughly $56,000.
  • Pay at least 50% of the premium charges for your full-time employees.
  • Provide SHOP protection to all full-time personnel

You can find the best plan for your company by working with a health insurance broker, who does all the research and comparisons at no extra cost.

Small company group insurance is divided into “metal” tiers:

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Each tier caters to people who prefer to pay higher monthly premiums for more comprehensive coverage as well as those who would rather pay a lower monthly premium and run the risk of higher coverage costs in the event that they need to seek medical attention. Each tier has different premiums, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. Employers are free to decide what kinds of benefits to provide to their staff.

Prerequisites for Small Business Health Insurance

Small business owners are not required to offer their staff health insurance benefits. If they decide to do so, they must adhere to the conditions outlined under the ACA below. The states’ requirements could be different.


All employees, not just supervisors or any other group, must have access to health insurance.

Coverage of necessary medical benefits

According to the ACA, a small company owner’s health plan must cover essentials like emergency services, prenatal care, maternity and newborn care, outpatient treatment, prescription medicines, and more.

Minimal involvement

In order to be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit under the Affordable Care Act, small businesses must contribute at least 50% of the monthly premium costs of the plans they offer. According to Bruce Jugan, owner of, an insurance broker in Montebello, California, states often demand a minimum percentage of employee participation in health insurance plans provided by small businesses in addition to these regulations. The rationale for this restriction is that if a company has 10 employees but only enrolls three, it’s likely that those three are seriously ill. Total enrolment should be made up of a variety of people with various health conditions to spread the costs.

What Is The Cost Of Small Business Health Insurance?

The average monthly cost for small business owners is $547 per employee and $1,175 for family coverage.

The type of plan, the age and health of the workers, and other variables all affect how much it will actually cost. A year with high employee healthcare costs could result in the insurance company setting its health insurance rates higher the following year.

How To Get Small Business Health Insurance

When looking for the best plan alternatives for your small business, you have a number of choices:

#1. Put in your own effort

Small company owners can browse alternatives from several insurance providers, compare pricing and services, and sign up for a plan that best suits their requirements. Many plans are provided for small businesses by the majority of health insurance providers. You can view plan options and costs by entering a small amount of information into forms on their websites (your ZIP code and the number of employees).

#2. Collaborate with a broker to get insurance

Insurance agents are familiar with both state and federal regulations as well as the specifics of health insurance coverage. Just make sure you’re working with an impartial or unbiased broker who will show you all of your options so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

#3. Investigate SHOP Marketplace.

You may find useful calculators and a variety of high-quality group insurance policies at

How to Evaluate Small Business Health Plans

You must behave similarly to a customer purchasing an individual health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act marketplace while selecting a small business health insurance plan.

When contrasting small company health insurance plans, keep the following in mind:

#1. Benefit planning

Check out the many health plan options that a business provides, such as preferred provider organization (PPO), health maintenance organization (HMO), and exclusive provider organization plans (EPO). Whether or not employees can receive out-of-network treatment and require referrals to see specialists depends on the program design. While one employee might choose the flexibility of a PPO with the understanding that they will pay higher premiums, another person might prefer the lower premiums in an HMO and not have any trouble keeping in-network. Giving workers choices may increase their sense of satisfaction.

#2. Premiums

Members must pay a premium for health insurance in order to be covered. Paychecks are routinely withheld for this. Businesses must calculate how much coverage will cost them and their employees because employers are responsible for paying the majority of the premiums.

#3. Cost of living expenses

Deductibles, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums all have a significant impact on how much members pay for medical treatments.

#4. Supplier network

Large health insurance providers have agreements with service providers and healthcare institutions like hospitals. These contracts determine provider compensation and may impose obligations on them, such as the need for them to deliver care of a minimum standard. Employees may need to choose a doctor themselves because of a small network, which will increase out-of-pocket expenses.

Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers

#1. Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield can accommodate the needs of practically any business thanks to coverage in every ZIP code in the United States and a selection of national networks. Also, the organization was our top choice for the finest overall health insurance provider. Benefits and customer satisfaction scores, however, differ by region because BCBS is a consortium of businesses. It’s crucial to assess your BCBS provider for things like client complaints.

The workplace wellness programs offered by BCBS differ by state, but as an illustration, BCBS Mississippi certifies firm executives to lead fitness courses and provides substantial health insurance premium discounts for staff members who pledge to exercise at least twice each week. Additional benefit options differ by region as well, but Anthem offers a number of plan types, 24/7 virtual care, a handy mobile app, and the choice to combine health insurance with dental, vision, life, and/or disability insurance. Additionally, the Blue365 employee discount program offers substantial savings to your staff on wellness-related goods and services.

#2. Oscar

With the use of a convenient mobile app, Oscar makes it simple for your employees to request virtual treatment, and with the majority of plans, there is no fee for online medical consultations. Also, workers may track their deductibles, send messages to their care team, refill prescriptions, and even receive rewards for reaching their step goals using the app. Moreover, Oscar and Cigna have teamed to provide members with access to the latter’s local and national provider networks. You can offer your employees two network options, including the Cigna Behavioral Health Network, both of which don’t need expert referrals.

Unfortunately, the following states, cities, and metro areas are excluded from the offer: Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City metro area, Georgia, Tennessee, Connecticut, select counties in Arizona, select counties in California, the Philadelphia metro area.

#3. Kaiser Permanente

Among all the insurers we looked at, Kaiser Permanente obtained the highest ratings for member experience from third parties. It has a 4.3-star NCQA rating on average (higher than all other providers). Furthermore, it ranked best for customer satisfaction in five out of 22 regions, which is noteworthy given that it is only offered in eight states and Washington, D.C. Moreover, Kaiser provides a variety of health plan choices, including deductible HMOs and PPO plans that can be combined with health savings accounts or other health reimbursement arrangements. Also, it is affordable to add additional benefits for your employees, such as chiropractic and acupuncture in addition to dental and vision coverage.

However, only California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia provide Kaiser Permanente insurance. However, Kaiser is less hands-on than certain Blue Cross Blue Shield businesses when it comes to particular workplace programs, despite the fact that the firm offers information and support for building a workplace wellness program. Nonetheless, the business does provide a number of exercise discounts, and members can consult with a wellness coach for free.

#4. UnitedHealthcare

You are able to give your employees a range of plan-type options with UnitedHealthcare. Even when you decide to include extra coverage like vision, dental, hearing, disability, and absence benefits as well as supplemental, pet, and life insurance benefits, it offers combined savings. The only program of its kind in the country is provided by UnitedHealthcare, and it is specifically tailored for part-time and seasonal employees. Traditional major medical coverage options include level-funded and fully insured plans, as well as a less expensive level-funded minimum essential coverage option. Moreover, UHC provides a range of workplace wellness programs, including incentives for physical activity and a free online weight loss program. A discount scheme is also included in group health plans.

With an average NCQA rating of 3.5 stars and an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, the best rating of any of the included providers on this list, UnitedHealthcare also enjoys quite excellent third-party ratings. Regional differences exist in the company’s customer satisfaction rating according to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Survey. 1 For instance, the business was ranked second in the Heartland but last (out of seven providers) in Florida.

#5. Aetna

Our top recommendation for self-insured funding options is Aetna if you’re seeking increased plan flexibility and the potential for bigger savings. Self-funding with Aetna can reduce your monthly expenses by up to 25%, and the insurer will give your company 50% of the surplus. Stop-loss insurance safeguards you from prohibitive charges at the same time. Employees can also open HSA accounts and receive several MinuteClinic treatments for free. Just be aware that not all fully insured groups receive the same advantages.

Members of self-insured plans can also take advantage of a variety of resources from Aetna, such as a practical smartphone app, virtual care through Teladoc, and online fitness courses. Also, the company’s financial strength is rated A (Good) by AM Best, and its commercial plans have an average NCQA star rating of 3.3, which indicates above-average member satisfaction. Also, you can obtain group dental insurance from the provider. Group insurance through Aetna isn’t offered everywhere, though.

Keep in mind that regardless of the size of your business, if you choose self-insurance, you will be required to file reports with the IRS.

Can A Small Business Write Off Health Insurance?

Small businesses can often deduct some of their health insurance-related expenses from their federal company taxes, similar to bigger corporations.

In Conclusion,

Small business owners can use the Small Business Health Options Program to purchase health insurance for their employees from licensed insurance providers.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was our best choice overall. It will be a particularly wise decision in areas where BCBS has strong workplace wellness initiatives, excellent customer satisfaction scores, and other advantages. Yet, you might want to use Oscar if a convenient app with simple access to virtual care is most vital to your staff. And Kaiser is a great option if you want to provide your employees with the best client experience.

For small firms looking to self-insure, we advise Aetna, while UnitedHealthcare is the best choice for those seeking the most comprehensive benefits package, particularly those seeking choices for their variable-hour employees. Your options may be constrained by your price and region, but all of our top picks are reliable companies with comprehensive coverage.

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