More small businesses provide healthcare even when not required

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Many small businesses that never provided health benefits to employees before will have to change their approach with the coming of "Obamacare," and it turns out that requirement is already having a trickle down effect on even smaller businesses who want to attract and keep good talent.

“I'm excited for Oct. 1 to see what else is out there, see if can get a better deal,” said Stephanie Riel.

Riel has always worked for small businesses that didn't provide health insurance. As a result, she's spent about $250 a month for the last three years paying for her own.

“I think I'm scared to go without,” said Riel. “I'm healthy but you know Murphy’s Law, and the moment you don't have it something happens and those costs scare me and are more detrimental.”

Starting in 2014, small businesses with 50 employees or more, working 30 hours or more, will be required to provide health insurance, and that has even smaller businesses reevaluating their offerings.

“We only have 11 full time employees so we aren't required, but in order for us to keep good talent we realize we have to do something,” said Melissa DiGianfillipo with Serendipit Consulting. “You need to provide something to employees to keep them and make them happy, but it's expensive to have health insurance.”

So rather than offer one or two corporate options, Serendipit has decided to offer employees a health insurance reimbursement of $200 a month.

It’s enough of a benefit that Stephanie left her old job to join the Serendipit team.

But, Alan Leafman with Health Insurance Express says shopping for your own health insurance can be a complicated and intimidating process with hundreds of plans, both public and private to choose from.

Of course, it's his job to help you make the right decision.

“We start by asking how many times did you go to the doctor last year and the year before,” said Leafman. 
Leafman says it is also important to know if you qualify for the government subsidy.

“The goal should be to get the max efficiency out of your health care at the lowest cost paid each month and year," added Leafman.

Open enrollment starts next week, and the experts at Health Insurance Express can help answer your questions and find the best plan for you.