There’s not just one hassle to run a small business in America, there are a number of them. Health care is one expense that most small enterprises get traumatized about. Simple things like lab tests, a visit to the family physician and lab tests can cost a fortune. In such a situation, people look for companies that can help share their health care requirements. For small businesses, it is important to keep their employees happy but also be cautious about their tight budgets.

Here is a list of tips for small businesses and their employees to navigate the complex health care landscape:

  1. Be persistent in negotiating

If you think whatever the agent has set as annual premium is the final amount, you should know better. The amount quoted can always be negotiated in case of small-size businesses. ACA has provided more leverage to small enterprises. For instance, in a business scope of 50 to 99 employees, employers are at liberty to bring down the cost of premiums. Here, it’s your renewal and you can decide to a great extent the amount of premium you should pay.

You need to understand that insurers who cite reasons like – employees have stayed for a year and premiums need to be high- are actually not great people to do business with. Do look out for insurance consultants who will look into these features and help you get lesser premiums. The health of the employees in your organization getting better or not could be a point for bringing down the cost of premiums.

  1. Look for exchanges catering to small businesses exclusively

If your business has less than 50 employees working for you full-time, you now have ACA providing the SHOP (Small Business Health Options) exchange. The SHOP is essentially run by state-led healthcare marketplace. A business can use SHOP to buy small plans. This marketplace provides small enterprises the opportunity to understand different options available in health insurance. Moreover, SHOP provides business owners the liberty to buy plans any time of the year.

Small businesses in SHOP exchange is not restricted on the sum it wishes to put down for their employees. Employers can also choose PPO and Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans along with other dental plans. They can decide on the premium amounts they wish to pay for these plans. You have a wide range of options to customize your employees’ plans according to their needs, personalities, and age. If you understand the health insurance nuances well, you can also access the tax-credit calculator on SHOP exchange and get significant tax credits.

  1. Better to go for individual plans

You may have bought a group insurance plan the previous year but you may still want to convert it to an individual health insurance scheme to cut down a lot of cost in premiums. If the employees are paying, say $5300 for a group plan annually, while family contribution for 2014 was $4820 annually, it is always better to suggest an individual coverage policy. This way you enable the employees a much better financial package.

Of course, there is a catch in individual plan. There is no contribution required from the employer’s end in the latter case. However, you can easily make that up by raising their salaries with other incentives. Usually, a corporate health insurance plan is more costly than individual costs. Moreover, those qualifying for Medicaid and Medicare also can get individual health plans with much lesser premium amounts. As long as the employees can show the additional salary raise as some non-taxable investment, it is better you give them that option.

  1. Look for primary care

These days many primary care physicians (PCP) are collaborating with employers. Together they deliver preventive care and primary care at a much reduced rate. Most of them work on the monthly-based membership. The rule with PCP is to charge on a monthly basis rather than billing on their insurance. Employees will get unlimited access to a physician for a fixed monthly fee. As PCP often comes within $1000 for a single individual, employers can get various discounted offers to employees.

However, if you fear of a critical illness, payment with PCP may lead you to bankruptcy. In such a case you can couple PCP with a health insurance that gives higher deductibles. This can save you around 15 to 20 percent than what you can get from traditional plans.

A little research and extra care towards your employees can go a long way in cutting down the costs. This will help you to focus on core investments and also provide better facilities to your staff. Small enterprises are no longer lagging behind in providing competitive facilities to their employees. ACA has further tried to minimize costs for both individual and family health coverage and small businesses.