No health coverage? ‘Mini-meds’ are better than nothing

by on
in Human Resources

It's hard to attract the best employees if you don't offer any health benefits. But with insurance costs soaring, it's difficult to jump into the health-plan game.


One solution: Offer coverage through a limited health insurance plan (often called a "mini-med" policy). For about one-third the cost of major medical programs, mini-meds cover some of your employees' basic health care costs, including emergency accidents, hospital confinement or surgical benefits.


Use of mini-meds is growing 20 percent a year. Reason: More employers are switching from expensive policies, or they're looking to add cheaper insurance alternatives for part-timers. Employers offering the plans include Lowe's, McDonald's and Wal-Mart.


How mini-meds work: Employees pay all or nearly all of the premium cost. Mini-meds don't cover all areas of health care. Instead, the policies defray parts of the cost in selected treatment areas.


Weekly premiums for basic coverage start about $10 a week for individuals and less than $50 a week for a family of four. The co-pay for doctor visits is $10 to $15. Coverage generally includes a $1,000 annual basic benefit plus a yearly deductible ranging from $50 to $150.


Upside: The plans are inexpensive and encourage employees to seek preventive care.


Downsides: Waiting periods exist for treatment of pre-existing conditions. The plans offer little coverage for catastrophic illnesses. And if you offer a more traditional plan to full-time workers, you'd create two drastically different health plans in your workplace, which could hurt morale.


Companies offering limited benefit policies include Allstate, www.allstate.com; Safeco, www.safeco.com; CNA Financial, www.cna.com; and Star HRG, www.starbridge.com.

Another option: health care "discount cards," which offer discounts on various medical expenses that card companies have negotiated with provider networks. (See 5/19/03 issue.)

Related Articles...

    No matches

Leave a Comment