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FORTUNE Small Business:

Finding health care for your employees

The owner of a three-employee company seeks coverage options for his staff.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: What is a good, affordable way to provide my employees with health insurance coverage? (My business is an insurance company, but we sell auto insurance.) I have a total of three employees.

-Gaston Roberti, Roberti's Insurance Agency, Santa Ana, Calif.

Dear Gaston: "Finding a plan for your small business is not as much of a challenge as it was 10 years ago, though finding an 'affordable' option can take some legwork," says Gene Fairbrother, lead small-business consultant for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), a support and lobbying group for self-employed workers and very small businesses. Fairbrother is also president of Dallas, Texas-based MBA Consulting, which specializes in small-business issues.

Fairbrother recommends making an outline of what you want from your medical plan before you start shopping. Do you want a low deductible? Are you interested in a health savings account, or a traditional plan? Next, do your budgeting. Do you want to contribute a fixed dollar amount to your employees' coverage, or are you planning to pay a certain percentage of the premiums?

Once you know what you want, you can shop widely for quotes, querying both major carriers like Blue Cross Blue Cross Blue Shield and businesses groups like the NASE that offer programs for small businesses.

Make use of local contacts and industry networks, Fairbrother advises.

"More than likely, your local chamber of commerce has a program, or, if you're a member of a national industry or professional association, they may have an insurance program they offer members," he says. "A lot of associations do now, because it's been such a challenge to find them in the past." To top of page

Tell us how you've solved the health-care coverage challenge.
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