Communication is key
For some employers, particularly larger ones, the challenge is not providing more benefits; rather, it's effectively communicating to workers which perks they have at their disposal. Candice Sherman, chief executive of the Northeast Business Group on Health, a coalition of benefits providers and healthcare firms, said more employees at member companies do not understand the scope of their benefit plans.
"Many of our members talk about employees saying they've got this issue, and they're surprised to learn they have benefits for that," Sherman said. "Members are focused on how to communicate and promote benefits."
Companies are popping up to help employers tell their workforce the nuances of their coverage. Rightway, a benefits company near Union Square, made an app employees can use to access their information. Nava has a search engine that employers and workers can tap to research benefits by category. And Flume Health in the Flatiron District has created a platform that aims to help companies launch benefit plans that are more specific to their employees' needs.
Weber said the cost for using the company's platform is comparable to traditional methods. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in New York small group market benefit broker fees average just under $21 per member per month while large group fees are about $12.
As some employers wrestle with how to communicate benefits, many are struggling to provide insurance at all—especially smaller firms. Small Business for America's Future, a national nonprofit, conducted a survey last month among 121 New York small-business owners to study the impact of rising health insurance costs. Each owner's company employs no more than 500 people, and the majority employ 20 or fewer. Four out of 10 business owners said they are not offering their employees health insurance, and 85% of those respondents said it's because prices are too high. More than a quarter of respondents said they've held off on hiring to offset insurance costs.