Online health insurance tool eliminates ‘pain points’ and improves cost control, employee loyalty

By Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert

We continue to read about the wrangling over healthcare legislation in Washington D.C. with politicians on both sides of the aisle claiming their ideas will make things better for U.S. workers.

I’m reminded of the funny one-liner President Reagan used to deliver, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The fact is that while members of the public sector continue to argue among themselves and repeat their “talking points,” folks in the private sector continue to work to meet the demands of the consumers. After all, politicians are out to win votes, while leaders in the private sector are out to earn your business.

That’s why I’m always heartened to see companies making huge inroads to solve the common problems we face – and certainly getting easy access to “properly fitting” health insurance plans is one of those common problems.  Choosing health care plans is one of the most difficult things employers say they face as it is often time consuming and confusing.  Today, I want to talk about what UnitedHealthcare’s online tool is doing to improve, streamline, and control health insurance costs for small business owners.  The company’s online shopping process only takes around 20 minutes and has coverage advisors to help you in addition to being simple and easy to understand.

Healthcare insurance ‘pain points’

Let me put this in simple terms: Insurance companies of all types have been very reluctant to modernize. While companies like Amazon constantly leverage new technological developments to tailor the buying experience to current and evolving consumer preferences, many insurance companies are still conducting business much like Lloyds of London did when it started insuring ships in the 17th century.

In the health insurance world today, small business owners find themselves dealing with hassles in areas like these:

  • Ease of understanding. The language is specialized, often combining the worst of both medical and legal jargon.
  • Modern buying experience. Consumers today buy $30,000 vehicles online with a few clicks of their mouse, yet the health insurance market generally requires a series of yearly meetings with agents and reps to get the process moving.
  • Small business teams are more varied today than ever before, so employers need greater flexibility when providing coverage. There are startups where the CEO and every employee is under 30 years old, while millions of Baby Boomers are staying active in their companies well beyond the traditional retirement age.
  • Cost control. Employers must be able to customize coverage not only to provide the right level of benefits, but provide the best benefits package at the right cost level.

The right coverage to attract best employees

These are the issues that plague small business leadership when they strive to best manage their companies. However, there’s another important dimension to the small business health insurance picture: The importance of providing good coverage to attract and retain talent.

Attracting good talent has been a problem for small business owners for at least the last five years; it consistently ranks at the top of small business surveys. And if you want to have any success getting the right people into the right positions in your company, you must offer competitive health insurance. This is simply a “given” today. However, the positive impact of offering good health insurance doesn’t stop at recruiting. Over the long haul, it increases employee loyalty and decreases turnover.

Let’s look at those last two points a little more closely. Sadly, in today’s business and health insurance climate, we often read about companies who are dropping coverage. Your employees read and hear the same news stories you do, so they know about this. When they recognize that you are an employer committed to providing good health coverage, that raises their appreciation for you. In the long haul, this increases employee retention, which increases productivity and decreases the additional recruiting and training costs associated with turnover.

A hidden benefit

Before I switch gears, let me clue you in on a little secret that many don’t know: Typically, the best hires at any small business come from internal recommendations. When you have a team of loyal and enthusiastic employees, they will act as magnets, drawing talented people to your organization. This is huge: it lowers your recruiting costs, delivers people who can “hit the road running,” and greatly strengthens your competiveness.

Problems solved

Everything I’ve outlined here contributes to the appreciation I have for UnitedHealthcare’s online tool. It eliminates the hassles I mentioned above and has the power to connect your small business with the kind of health insurance that builds the loyalty I just discussed.

Here’s how UnitedHealthcare’s online tool solves each of the above four problems:

Ease of understanding. After the tool uses plain English to ask you two simple questions – What’s your zip code? and How many employees do you have? – you’re taken straight to a long list of plans with pricing. You clearly see the costs, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximum (which is the figure I really appreciate), and other essential information.

Modern buying experience. I mentioned online car buying earlier. A friend did this (via Carvana) and he used “sliders” to set his price range. UnitedHealthcare’s Interactive Plan Guide does the same thing. Also – just as Amazon lets you narrow down your choices – you’ll find that you can filter UnitedHealthcare plans by a variety of attributes, like HMO, PPO, HSA-enabled, and various cost sliders. One more thing needs to be mentioned here: You can do all of this yourself, on your schedule, at home, or while you’re at work. If the Internet isn’t making life more convenient for you, it’s not doing its job.

Coverage. To test the system I entered a zip code and 20 employees to see how many plans I would be given: 10 plans came up that matched my criteria. In a day when we’re hearing about health insurers offerings decreasing, I felt that 10 plans were extraordinarily good. They gave me a lot of flexibility to match up my employees with a plan that fits them properly.

Cost control. I’ve already touched on this, but let me give you more details. As you’re testing different positions on your sliders, you can test out different plans with different levels of employee contributions. This gives you the power to easily fine tune your costs to align with your yearly budget projections.

The bottom line is that when you add up all of these benefits, there is a strong possibility that going the UnitedHealthcare’s online tool route to providing your company with health insurance will not only save you money and time, it will put you on the road to building the kind of brand loyalty within your team that gives you those coveted boosts in productivity and lower overhead costs due to less turnover.

Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post by United Health Care; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.