Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers

UnitedHealthcare offers the best small business health insurance

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If you own a small business, offering health insurance can be a great incentive for hiring and retaining employees. But unlike major corporations with a sizable workforce, small businesses have different health insurance needs, especially if you’re working with a limited budget or only need coverage for a few employees.

The best small business health insurance companies offer flexible plans, good customer service, and a large network of providers. They also have member perks, like wellness incentives and rewards programs.

Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers of 2021

Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers
Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers

Best Overall : UnitedHealthcare


United Healthcare

United Healthcare

Why We Chose It 

We chose UnitedHealthcare as best overall due to its flexible policy options, unique member perks, and seamless online user experience whether you’re purchasing coverage or searching for a provider. 

Pros
  • Variety of plans available

  • Great customer support

  • Easy to get a quote online

Cons
  • Some policies are not available in all states

UnitedHealthcare has over a dozen tiered PPO and HMO policies available, depending on your state, with low- and high-deductible plans. It’s easy to get a quote on UnitedHealthcare’s website, and if you’re not sure what type of coverage is right for you, you can choose “get recommendations” for some suggestions.

Another thing we like about UnitedHealthcare is customer support. While you’re comparing policies online, you can use the live chat feature or request a call to discuss your options with an agent. Once you’re enrolled, you can use the Employer eServices portal to manage your policy.

Overall, UnitedHealthcare’s small business insurance plans are pretty affordable, and you can qualify for coverage if you have between two and 50 employees. Here are some sample quotes and policies for a 35-year-old single employee in California:

  • SignatureValue Advantage HMO Gold: $442 per month/$1,250 deductible
  • Core PPO Bronze: $452 per month/$7,200 deductible
  • Select Plus PPO Gold: $647 per month/$500 deductible

In addition, employees have the option to add vision and dental insurance to their policy for an added fee. Dental coverage ranges from $31 to $35 per month, and vision coverage costs $8 per month. Employees can visit myuhc.com to search for medical, behavioral health, dental, and vision providers in-network, as well as local pharmacies. 

With UnitedHealthcare, your employees can get access to perks like HSAs, HRAs, healthcare discounts, a nurse hotline, virtual telehealth visits, counseling programs, wellness rewards through Rally, and much more. 

UnitedHealthcare is the largest health insurance provider in the country, partnering with 1.3 million providers, and 6,500 hospitals and facilities. The company is part of UnitedHealth Group, which was founded in 1977.

Best for HSAs : Aetna


Aetna

Aetna

Why We Chose It 

Aetna’s health savings accounts (HSAs) are easy to use, there’s no minimum contribution requirement, and distributions for qualifying medical expenses are tax free. 

Pros
  • Employees and employers can both contribute

  • HSA balance carries over to the next year if the funds aren’t used

  • Certain Aetna HSAs have tax advantages

Cons
  • Only available for high-deductible plans

  • Can’t get a quote online

Aetna is our choice for the best small business health savings accounts due to their generous benefits and simplicity. Employees can withdraw funds at any time using an Aetna HSA debit card or check to pay for qualifying medical expenses, like health plan deductibles, over-the-counter medications, LASIK surgery, and more. Plus, employees can use money from their HSA to cover COBRA premiums if they become unemployed.

Unfortunately, Aetna’s HSA plan is only available for employees who have a high-deductible health insurance policy. In any given year, the maximum contribution is $3,000 per individual or $5,950 per family, regardless of the employee’s health insurance deductible. 

Employers and employees can both contribute to an Aetna HSA, and the account grows over time with interest, regardless of the account balance. Once the account reaches $2,000, the employee has the option to invest the money in a variety of market funds.

One of the best aspects of an Aetna HSA is that unused funds roll over, so if an employee doesn’t use the money in their account, it’s still available to use the following year.

In addition to its HSA offering, Aetna also sells great small business health insurance plans for companies with less than 100 employees. There's a variety of plans available, including HMO, PPO, EMO, and Medicare policies. Employees can also take advantage of more than 70 wellness resources and programs.

To get a quote or buy small business insurance from Aetna, you’ll need to fill out the request form and wait for an agent to contact you. The only way to get in touch with Aetna is by calling a representative in your state

Aetna was founded in 1853 as a life insurance company and started selling health insurance in 1899. In November 2018, Aetna merged with CVS.

Best for FSAs : Humana


Humana

Humana

Why We Chose It 

Humana’s convenient flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow employees to save money for healthcare services, even without a health insurance policy, plus it has payroll tax incentives for employers that offer it.

Pros
  • Easy to pay for healthcare costs using a Humana debit card

  • Employees can roll over up to $500 in used funds

  • Option to bundle FSAs with other Humana spending accounts

  • Online quotes available for health plans

Cons
  • Not available in every state

Humana’s plans have major benefits for employees and employers alike, and we recommend Humana for small business owners who want to provide flexible spending accounts to their employees.

Employees who opt into an FSA can use their Humana Access Mastercard debit card, which has built-in fraud protection, to pay for eligible expenses. Members can manage their accounts, submit reimbursement requests, and check balances using a laptop, tablet, or mobile device anytime, anywhere.

Humana allows members to use their FSA funds to pay for a number of services including health insurance deductibles, dental cleanings, eyeglasses, physical therapy, laser surgery, chiropractic services, and more. Plus, employers can allow employees to roll over up to $500 in unused funds or offer a 45-day grace period to use the money after the plan year ends.

As an employer, Humana’s FSA can help reduce your payroll tax. On average, members save 7.65% on payroll taxes for every dollar contributed to an employee FSA. You can also bundle an FSA and other spending accounts, like an HSA, to get a discount.

In addition, employees can take advantage of perks like Doctor On Demand telehealth services, the mail-delivery Humana Pharmacy, and Go365 wellness program, where members can earn rewards like Amazon gift cards for doing healthy everyday activities.

Overall, Humana’s small business insurance offerings are fairly comprehensive, with medical, dental, and vision options. There are five medical insurance policies available for businesses with two to 99 employees, including a level-funded premium (LFP) option. But unfortunately, coverage is not available in every state.

Humana was founded in 1961 and is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

Largest Network : Blue Cross Blue Shield


Blue Cross Blue Shield

 Blue Cross Blue Shield

Why We Chose It 

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) contracts with more healthcare facilities than any other provider, and its small business insurance options are tough to beat. 

Pros
  • Coverage is available nationwide

  • Blue365 wellness program rewards employees for healthy habits

  • Easy to find a doctor online

Cons
  • Online capabilities vary based on your state’s BCBS website

  • You can’t get an online quote in every state

  • Limited customer support options

BCBS has the largest provider network of any health insurance company, contracting with more than 96% of hospitals and 95% of doctors around the U.S., which means your employees can take advantage of excellent care anywhere they go. BCBS sells coverage in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and currently serves over 107 million members.

In addition to its extensive provider network, BCBS also stands out for its Blue365 member wellness program, which offers great discounts on fitness equipment, apparel, healthy foods, and more. We also like that it’s easy to find an in-network provider using the online search tool. And in most states, in-person and telehealth services are also covered. 

BCBS offers several different health insurance policies, including dental and vision coverage, but plan availability varies by state. In a majority of states, BCBS offers HMO, PPO, Medicare, POS plans, pharmacy coverage, HSAs, and FSAs.

If you’re considering a policy from BCBS, one thing to know is that you must visit your state’s BCBS website to find information about the plans and programs available and to get a quote. We also found that some states have an online quote tool, while others require you to get a quote through an agent.

BCBS’s customer service options are pretty limited. The only way to reach the company is by phone during business hours. If you have questions about your policy, make sure to call your state’s BCBS customer support number to avoid delays.

BCBS was founded in 1929 and has been a leader in healthcare innovation for Americans across the country. According to the company, one in three Americans is insured by BCBS.

Best for Customer Service : Gusto


Gusto

 Gusto

Why We Chose It 

Gusto has great customer service with licensed advisors available to help you choose the right insurance plan for your employees, and the company can handle compliance and benefits administration for you.

Pros
  • Gusto advisors can help you select an appropriate health plan

  • Employees can contact the company directly for questions and support

  • Health packages are fully customizable

  • Health reimbursement plans are available

Cons
  • Coverage isn’t available nationwide

  • Difficult to get a quote online

If you’re looking for a small business insurance provider with top-notch customer service, Gusto is a great choice. The company has dedicated agents who can help you purchase a plan that is right for your employees and your budget. Additionally, the Gusto team can handle benefits administration and compliance for your business, which means less work on your end.

Gusto is unique because it’s a full-service employee benefits platform. Gusto can also help you streamline payroll, recruiting, time tracking, and more. Gusto offers health benefits through a network of reputable health insurance providers, including Humana, Guardian, Kaiser, and UnitedHealthcare.

With Gusto, your employees can enroll themselves in a medical, dental, or vision plan that you select, and employees have direct access to Gusto representatives if they need help or have questions. 

It’s easy to build a new health plan or move an existing plan into the Gusto platform. You can get a quote online for health benefits, but you’ll need to go through the process of setting up your payroll in the Gusto platform, which takes a while.

We also like that Gusto offers health reimbursement plans, which can be a good option for small businesses that want to keep their costs low. The company advertises that it offers 3,500 plans, including medical, dental, vision, HSAs, FSAs, life, and disability insurance.

To get in touch with Gusto, you can call or email the company or request help through the online portal if you’re already a customer. 

Gusto was founded in 2012 as ZenPayroll and currently serves more than 100,000 businesses around the country. The company is backed by prominent investors, including Y Combinator, T. Rowe Price, and SV Angel.

Best for Plan Features : Oscar Health


Oscar Health

 Oscar Health

Why We Chose It 

Oscar Health offers a wide variety of unique plan features and perks that you won’t find from many other insurance companies, like $0 telehealth services, a personalized Care Team, and appointment scheduling assistance.

Pros
  • Unlimited and free virtual urgent care and primary care

  • Easy to search online for healthcare providers in your area

  • Mobile app for health services on-the-go

  • Active lifestyle rewards

Cons
  • Only available in California (select markets), Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee.

  • Can’t get a quote instantly online

  • Doesn't offer vision or dental insurance

Oscar Health is an online health insurance company with impressive plan features and perks. Members can get care through Oscar Health’s 24/7 Virtual Urgent Care and Virtual Primary Care, for $0, with unlimited visits. After enrolling, every member gets paired with a personalized Care Team that consists of a licensed nurse and social worker who can recommend care and help schedule appointments. Plus, it’s easy to renew prescriptions by booking a telehealth appointment and taking advantage of Oscar Health's $3 prescriptions.

Finding a doctor, hospital, or pharmacy in-network is simple using the online search tool. Members can also consult their Care Team to find a reputable provider in their area. And there are no referrals required for in-network providers. At this time, Oscar Health only offers medical insurance, which is underwritten by Cigna. 

Like other providers we reviewed, Oscar Health also rewards members for living an active lifestyle. If you sync your daily steps from a fitness tracker with the Oscar Health mobile app, you can earn $1 per day, up to $100 annually, when you meet your daily step goal. At any point, you can cash out for an Amazon gift card.

Oscar Health offers tiered health insurance policies. In Tennessee, for example, small business owners can choose between a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum policy. Deductibles range from $0 to $5,750 for individuals. In Atlanta, the deductible options for the same tiered policies range from $0 to $3,500. Plans available include HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, Medicare, FSAs, and HSAs, but exact plans will vary by state.

The biggest downside to Oscar Health is that coverage is only available in California (select markets), Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee.

To get a quote, you’ll have to submit the online form and wait for a representative to get in touch with your options. To reach the company, you can call 1-855-672-2784, which is the dedicated phone number for small business plans, and speak to an Enrollment Guide.

Oscar Health started in 2012. The company has nearly 530,000 members, and in 2021, it plans to offer at least one health insurance policy in 18 states.

Final Verdict

As a small business owner, choosing health insurance for your employees can be challenging. Some companies, like Gusto, have great customer service and support. Others, like BCBS, have an extensive provider network, which makes it easier for your employees to access care.

Based on our research and provider comparisons, the best small business health insurance provider is UnitedHealthcare. Not only does the company offer flexible and robust policy options, but members can take advantage of unique perks, like wellness rewards programs, discounts, counseling services, and more. The company also has great customer support options, including a live chat feature.

Compare the Best Small Business Health Insurance Providers

Company Number of States Types of Plans Average Annual Premium (per person) Policy Benefits
UnitedHealthcare Best Overall Nationwide HMO, PPO, FSA, HSA, Medicare, dental, vision Varies Many plan choices, good customer support, and rewards programs
Aetna Best for HSAs Nationwide HMO, PPO, EMO, dental, vision, Medicare Varies Flexible HSAs with an investment option
Humana Best for FSAs Nationwide HMO, PPO, HSA, dental, vision, Medicare Varies HSAs that cover a wide range of procedures and services
Blue Cross Blue Shield Largest Network Nationwide HMO, PPO, Medicare, POS, pharmacy, dental, vision Varies Large network gives employees access to reputable providers nationwide
Gusto Best for Customer Service 38 states and Washington, D.C. Medical, dental, vision, HSA, FSA, life, disability Varies Representatives can assist with policy selection and benefits administration
Oscar Health Best for Plan Features 6 states HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, Medicare, FSA, HSA Varies Tons of unique features, like free telehealth services

FAQs

How Much Does Small Business Health Insurance Cost?

Small business health insurance premiums depend on a variety of factors, including the number of employees you have, the type of insurance plans you want to offer, the deductible, and the co-pay. Additionally, the state that your business operates in can also have an impact on the cost.

How Many Employees Do You Need to Qualify for a Small Business Health Insurance Group Policy?

Typically, you need to have at least two employees to qualify for small business health insurance. Some insurance companies cap small business insurance plans at 100 employees, while others have a maximum of 50 employees. 

How Do I Know If a Health Insurance Provider Is Right for My Small Business?

There are dozens of health insurance providers that cater to small businesses. To choose the right insurance provider for your needs, consider the things that are most important to you. Do you want a provider that has unique member benefits? Do you want a company that offers cheap rates? Do you want a carrier that offers additional features, like payroll software

Comparing providers using your personal criteria is the best way to find a provider that checks all the boxes for you and your employees.

Methodology

To find the best small business health insurance providers, we started by making a list of 10 popular insurance companies. Then, we considered factors like plans available, customer service, wellness incentives, unique member perks, and network size. 

All of our top choices offer affordable plan options, HSAs/FSAs, wellness programs, and online policy management tools.

Article Sources

  1. Crunchbase. "UnitedHealth Group." Accessed Apr. 16, 2021.

  2. CNBC. "CVS Creates New Health-Care Giant as $69 Billion Merger With Aetna Officially Closes." Accessed Apr. 16, 2021.

  3. Humana - Docushare. "Healthcare Flexible Spending Account." Accessed Apr. 16, 2021.