One fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been an increase in the number of Americans who are working from home permanently.
With so many people being freed from the yokes of the office, many have chosen to move to other states for a variety of lifestyle or cost reasons. But while these arrangements can be a boon for workers, they can make it difficult when it comes to your workers' group health insurance.
One of the main stumbling blocks is that most group plans are local or regional at best, as they contract with providers and hospitals in the area where an employer is located.
For employers that suddenly have staff now working far afield from their headquarters, securing health insurance coverage in other states can create headaches, particularly if they have contracted with a local or regional insurer.
And to make matters worse, some employees who are working remotely don't bother telling their employers they are moving, which can render their coverage obsolete if they locate to a place out of their insurance policy's coverage area.
Remote employees who fail to inform their employers when they relocate could suddenly find themselves in an area with no access to their insurer's preferred network and they could have their claims denied if they seek out medical care. To avoid this issue, consider instituting a policy that they have to inform you of any move to another state.
What you can do
If all of your staff are working in a single location, city or state, there are usually plenty of options for group health insurance. But if you now have people working out of state, you have choices to make for how to get them covered.
Many national insurance companies don't have the same type of network in every state, and even among those that do, health care providers may not offer the most cost-efficient networks for out-of-state employees.
Some carriers offer national group health plans that are available to employees in most states. If you now find yourself with employees who are scattered around the country, a national plan helps you avoid having to comply with different state regulations and finding carriers with good networks in other states.
In these types of plans, all of the employees in your organization receive the same group benefits regardless of where they live and work, and they all have access to the same quality coverage.
But there are just a handful of carriers that offer this type of group coverage. Talk to us if you want to know more.
One option is to find local coverage for employees in specific locations, but if you don't have many employees in that region, you may not be able to find preferable rates for their group coverage.
If that is too difficult, you can set up a taxable stipend that your employees could use to purchase their own health insurance. A stipend is a fixed amount of money paid to an employee in addition to their basic salary, designed to cover whatever extra costs the employer allows, such as health insurance, internet and other expenses.
As more U.S. companies have workforces spread across many states, health insurance needs to be on the top of the list of considerations.
The health insurance you choose will depend largely on your budget and coverage preferences, and what is available to your staff in the state they are working in.