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Wise-up Wednesday from Zane Benefits: Before you offer health benefits, ask these 6 questions

May 27, 2015
Should you offer health benefits at our dental practice? What type? Evaluate health benefits by asking these six questions.

The idea of offering health benefits to your dental practice staff is exciting, yet the task of evaluating and budgeting for health benefits can feel daunting. What strategy is right for your dental practice? What can you afford? Are you making the right decision?

As you research health benefits for your dental practice, a smart first step is to evaluate your needs, budget, and goals by asking these six questions.

Six questions to ask before you offer health benefits
1. Who will be covered by the health benefits?
Identify which employees or types of employees you want to offer health benefits to. This will identify two things — the number of employees you will offer benefits to (this impacts budget and strategy), and how many of those employees will participate. (Participation could impact eligibility for a group health insurance plan.)

2. What is your health benefits budget?
The cost and cost structure will vary by the type of health benefits you offer. For example, a group health insurance plan has a variable cost structure (costs can go up or down annually), whereas a defined contribution health plan has a fixed cost (the dental practice sets and controls the annual cost).

3. What do employees value most?
Do employees currently have coverage? What type of benefits would they value the most? What have they been asking for? While you may not be able to meet all requests (set this expectation up front), employee input is valuable to your decision.

4. Who will manage the health benefits program?
It’s important to consider who at the practice will manage the benefits program, and how much time they have to devote to the matter. Many small dental practices do not have a dedicated human resources team member, so consider your administrative bandwidth.

5. What are your health benefits goals?
Consider the practice’s goals for offering a health benefits program. What is important to you? What is a deal breaker? At the end of the year, what makes the program a success?

6. What type of health benefits should you offer?
Now that you’ve assessed your needs and goals, it’s time to evaluate what type of health benefits to offer. There are two core options to consider — a group health insurance policy, or defined contribution health benefits, which are health-care allowances employees can use for individual health insurance coverage.

With new health benefit options available to small dental practices, health benefits are within reach. What is the best approach? It will depend on your health benefit needs and goals. Asking these six questions is a wise place to start.

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Wise-up Wednesday is presented bi-monthly from the experts at Zane Benefits. One Wednesday a month features Human Resource issues, and the other Wednesday discusses health benefits. Want more HR tips for your dental practice? To learn more about a defined contribution health benefits approach, download the free guide, “The Dental Practice's Guide to Individual Health Insurance Reimbursement.”