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Do You Have A Health Care Game Plan?

Health care is a big topic on every retailer’s mind right now, especially as more elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) come to fruition. The ACA comes with plenty of questions: What, in the way of insurance, is a retailer required to offer his employees? From what different kinds of plans can he choose? What constitutes a “full-time worker,” anyway? The law is complex, with no one-size-fits-all solution.

But before you can consider the ACA’s impact on your business, it might be good to have a baseline understanding of what other home improvement retailers are doing in the areas of employee health care and benefits.

As we started crunching numbers from the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) 2014 Employee Compensation Study, which surveys home improvement retailers on the benefits, pay and bonuses they provide employees, we headed straight to the health benefits section of the survey to offer a preview. Read on to see what retailers are saying, and make sure you get your copy of the full study, due out in the first quarter of 2014.

According to survey respondents, most retailers offer some sort of health care plan for at least their managers and full-time employees—and often those plans extend to employees’ families, too.

Surprisingly, all the confusion and changes from the ACA doesn’t appear to be inciting action from retailers.

About 70 percent of respondents plan to continue offering medical coverage in 2014. Half plan to continue to offer dental insurance, and nearly half of respondents plan to continue offering life insurance. A number will continue to offer eye care and short- and long-term disability insurance as well.

The deadline for retailers to be required to offer coverage under the ACA has been extended; perhaps the majority of respondents aren’t prepared to make changes until that deadline is closer and they have more details about what kind of coverage they will be required and able to provide for their employees.


Almost one-third of respondents say they don’t pay premiums, while nearly 20 percent pay 100 percent of the premiums for their employees. The sweet spot seems to be between 30 and 80 percent, though, with about 15 percent of respondents paying 50 percent of their employees’ premiums.

Types of Plans

Almost half of the respondents who offer health insurance offer a PPO, while about one-fifth offer an HMO plan. Generally, HMOs offer more basic forms of treatment and a limited number of doctors and hospitals to choose from, while PPOs more often cover specialist and emergency treatment and offer more flexibility in choosing doctors and hospitals.

Retailers know the importance of happy and healthy employees and the majority offer a health plan—the PPO—with a higher level of service and coverage.

Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, and Flexible Spending Accounts, or FSAs, are newer, which may explain why fewer respondents say they offer these plans. Both plans allow employees a way to set aside money from their paychecks that can specifically be put toward medical expenses.

At a Glance: Other Key Findings

Of course, there are other benefits besides health insurance employees offer.

Work-life balance is a topic on many employers’ minds these days, especially as they hire workers from the millennial generation. This generation all but demands flex time, cell phone reimbursement, or other ways of helping them take care of their work duties while enjoying life in a time where technology blurs those lines.
Employees who are thinking of starting families appreciate maternity leave that extend beyond what may be required by law, and employees who want to go back to school would be interested in educational reimbursement options.

The majority of survey respondents didn’t offer most of these types of benefits (with the two biggest exceptions being salary bonuses and employee discounts in-store).

But take a second look and see if there’s anything you may be able to offer your employees.

You may find you offer something no one takes advantage of, or that there’s another benefit employees are interested in that doesn’t cost as much as you anticipated. Consider changing your offerings to better reflect your employees’ actual wants and needs.

While you can’t do everything for everyone, you may find a couple of small things you can do that could greatly enhance the overall compensation you offer.

NRHA Now Offers an Affordable Health Care Option for Retailers

NRHA has teamed up with insurance agency Custom Benefits Insurance Group, Inc., to offer an option for affordable health care coverage that allows participants to choose of benefits plan that best fits their needs. The costs associated with the plan are lowered because small businesses can pool their risk.

“The biggest benefit to this kind of program is flexibility,” Chiesa says. “Retailers get to pick what programs they want. Even retailers with multiple stores can pick different programs for each unique store location. It’s built to be convenient for members.”

Want to learn more about the NRHA Health Care Program? NRHA members can contact Bob Chiesa at Custom Benefits Insurance Group at 888-201-7408 or visit cbigi.com/nrha-program.

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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