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For cost and coverage control, take this online health care tool for a test drive

By Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert

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

One of the things that has come to light in recent years is how little consumers really understand about health insurance. If you go buy a new car, before you leave the showroom, you’ll know every feature, have a feel for the leather interior, and know how much oomph it has…down to the last horsepower.

But health insurance has been a mystery. Consumers often don’t understand what kind of health insurance they’ve purchased until it’s time to make a claim, and then many are surprised (in a bad way).

Perhaps the single biggest benefits consumers have enjoyed today through the Internet is the ability to educate themselves better than ever before and there’s no reason that this benefit shouldn’t apply to health insurance. And that, I believe, is one of the biggest benefits of UnitedHealthcare’s online tool for small business owners.

I’ve already discussed how this online system eliminates a list of “pain points” – such as improved cost controls and flexibility of coverage. In this article, I want to go a little deeper into the actual process and “unpack” a few more points that are critical to small business owners and their employees, including greatly improved understanding of the coverage you and your employees are buying.

Answer three easy questions – your location, your number of employees, and when you want to start coverage – and the online tool gets busy (as shown in the short video below) setting up the three simple steps required to complete the process. (Many small business owners find that it takes only 20 minutes to get hooked up with the plans that best suit their team. However, even though you’re going to save time using this tool, in the end you’re going to better understand your coverage.)


To give you a quick overview of what to expect, let me walk you through the steps.

1. Select plans

After I entered a zip code near where I live, UnitedHealthcare came back with six plans offered in my area. The most critical financial details of each plan are presented – costs to the employer, costs to the employee, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, drug costs, etc.

At this point you can keep as many plans as you would like to offer. If, for some reason, you want to limit choices you can do it at this point. However, if you offer at least six levels of coverage, your employees can use UnitedHealthcare’s “fit finder” tool, which brings convenience and peace of mind to folks on your team when they’re working to choose the best coverage for themselves and their families.

2. Enter employee details

Once you’ve settled on the array of coverage you would like to offer your employees, it’s time to get down to some more specific details:

  • The employee ID (initials),
  • Zip code of employee’s home,
  • Employee age, and
  • Employee gender.

The employee’s spouse and children can be added at this point. UnitedHealthcare has set up this process to import details of your employees from Xero, Quickbooks, or Excel files, so most small business owners won’t have to be keying in this information. I’m telling you this here so you can make those files available before you start the process. That will save you the hassle of tracking them down after you’ve started working with the online tool.

3. Set your monthly budget

With that information, you’re in the homestretch. It’s time to decide where you want to set your monthly budget. The tool provides a minimum figure and you can adjust the slider to hit your target. Doing this locks you in to a fixed monthly cost no matter which coverage your employees select. Those who opt for more expensive plans will have a higher employee monthly contribution.

Further, now that you have demographic information for each employee entered, you can see what their range of costs (depending on the plans they select) would be and what your actual cost would be for each employee. This is great for you because you have a good feel for what your employees can afford so you can find a fair balance between your contribution and what employees need to pay for their health insurance.

Let me make two quick observations before I leave this topic. First, I really appreciate the fact that you can do all of this on the UnitedHealthcare website without entering your personal or payment information. That’s a pet peeve of mine. You put in your information when you’re ready.

Lastly, although I love the DIY nature of this tool, every page gives you a phone number for personal assistance in your area or to request a call or get help via email. So if you’re more “old school” and want to talk to someone, that option is there for you.

• • •

The views expressed do not reflect those of UnitedHealthcare nor its affiliates. They are the personal opinions of the authors. While UnitedHealthcare has made every attempt to ensure accuracy, the information contained in these blogs may change and UnitedHealthcare assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, contrary interpretations of the subject matter or information herein or for any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. These blogs may connect to other websites maintained by third parties over whom UnitedHealthcare has no control. UnitedHealthcare makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information contained in those linked blogs or third party websites. Blogs are for general informational purposes only and not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care.

 

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