Nearly all of Washington small businesses experienced health premium hikes throughout the past year and are expecting an additional 9% increase next year, according to a new survey.
The Small Business for America’s Future (SBAF) survey of 1,015 small business owners found that 97% saw their rates increase, with nearly one-third observing a hike of 15% or more.
The findings underscore how high costs are hurting businesses’ ability to grow as well as the severity of rising healthcare costs, SBAF said.
“As small business owners in Washington state, we’re feeling the pinch of soaring healthcare costs more than ever. These escalating expenses are not just a threat to our financial stability, but they also hinder the growth potential of our businesses,” Jill Nelson, owner of Hot Diggity!, said in a press release.
According to SBAF, annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $23,968 this year with workers paying, on average, $6,575 of their coverage.
SBAF added that 81% of Washington small businesses surveyed said that the cost of healthcare has impacted their ability to hire new employees.
Interestingly, a separate U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey released last week found that more small businesses struggled to find the right employees. More than half of those surveyed said they were experiencing a worker shortage in their area.
“Not surprisingly, in this atmosphere of increased competition for workers, employers are having to pull out all the stops to find and retain talent,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a press release. “Nearly half of those who report searching for new workers in 2023 say it is hard to offer competitive pay and benefits. And 60% of all small businesses agree it is challenging to keep up with existing employees’ salary expectations.”
SBAF’s survey also found that 51% of respondents do not offer health insurance due to the high cost of doing so.
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) offers a benefits center in which industry employees and their relatives have access to healthcare coverage options through Decisely.
It offers collision repair businesses a savings of up to 20% versus renewals and employees can use coverage as soon as they enroll.
Through the SCRS benefits center, the association’s partnership plans are offered. Those include:
- $0 deductibles and employees choose their out-of-pocket maximum, which ranges from $3,000-$7,000
- No-cost services for visiting primary care physicians, specialists, urgent care, labs, or having X-rays;
- Free generic prescriptions and mental health services; and
- Aetna and Cigna networks.
Through Gravie, rolling dates are effective on the first day of each month, allowing individuals or small businesses to enroll at their convenience.
Small businesses seeking health coverage for their employees can also take advantage of Gravie’s partnership with HR platform Decisely to find the right plans.
Kevin Dunn, CEO of Decisely, said while large corporations leverage their size for healthcare advantages, SCRS has stepped up to help small businesses level the playing field.
“Traditional fully-insured plans often hide costs, offer limited data, and lack bargaining power leaving small businesses burdened with expensive plans and bare-bones benefits,” Dunn told Repairer Driven News. “Employees face the brunt of this with high deductibles and restricted access to care.
“SCRS stands out by offering three key advantages: transparency, cost savings, and improved employee retention.”
Related to transparency, he said SCRS’ plan allows policyholders to access their own claims data to make informed decisions about benefits. Dunn added that level-funded plans drive down costs by offering competitive rates and shared risk.
Dunn said the policies can help improve employee retention by attracting top talent with affordable healthcare coverage.
“Eighty-five percent of Millennials, a crucial demographic for many businesses, consider health benefits essential for staying with a company,” he said. “Additionally, Decisely data shows that SCRS businesses with health plans see employees stay an impressive 18 months longer than those without.”
Beyond attracting the best employees, Dunn said offering health benefits demonstrates that a business prioritizes the well-being of its employees. In the process, he said, it helps foster a loyal and motivated workforce.
“The idea of high-cost medical care is overwhelming to employees; 45% of employees would feel panicked by an unexpected medical expense,” Dunn said.
Decisely data shows benefits make a difference in employee loyalty and retention, he added.
Click here to explore the SCRS healthcare offering through Decisely.
Featured image courtesy of Ralf Hahn/iStock