The US. is fostering a booming economy, and unemployment is at the lowest level since early 2000 (3.8 percent). Competition in the job market, especially for lower-wage employees, is fierce among employers. In fact, forecasters believe that unemployment will reach 3 percent at the end of 2019, the lowest rate since the economic boom after World War II.  

For business owners in the foodservice industry, the opportunity to grow is bright but hiring and retaining employees will continue to be very challenging. Not only has the labor pool tightened, but also there’s new competition for employees from gig economy jobs, like Uber and Lyft, that all offer easy entry, flexible hours, and independence.

The Opportunity

A recent poll by Reuters /Ipsos, shows that 65 percent of Americans are very concerned about access to, and the overall cost of health insurance, including premiums, deductibles, and copays. Combine this with another survey of restaurant workers that showed that 90 percent of their employers did not offer health insurance or health benefits—and the opportunity for foodservice businesses is clear. 

Right now, restaurants can leverage their ability to provide a healthcare solution to their employees, and compete for growth.

But health insurance is expensive right? How can I afford to provide benefits to my employee without going broke?   

Healthcare benefits can be very affordable when you focus on a strategy that delivers meaningful access to healthcare first, and then add the financial protection employees may need based on their own circumstances.

Take a moment and put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Maybe it’s one of your dish washers making $10 per hour. Now think about some of the barriers he or she might have to gain access to healthcare— money, transportation, and the ability to get time off work. Now, what if you could remove those barriers to give that employee the confidence that they can take care of themselves and their family if one was to get sick

So—we’ve identified the problem, the opportunity, now let’s talk about the solution.   

The How

Three steps to delivering affordable healthcare benefits to hire and retain employees:

Start with a foundational plan that delivers meaningful access to healthcare for your employees.

Our company has built a plan specifically designed for low-wage earners that removes the biggest barriers to accessing healthcare that starts at $105 per month or about 61 cents an hour for a full-time employee. EverydayCARE, as it’s known, removes barriers by initially delivering care via our TelePCP services 24/7 in English and Spanish. This newfound access is critical for most foodservice employees who work long hours and often can’t find off-hours to visit a doctor. 

When your employee does need in-office care, cost can be a challenge especially when there is a copay. In fact, in a national survey, 40 percent of Americans say they didn’t go to a doctor in the last 12 months due to costs, and another 32 percent said they didn’t fill a needed prescription due to cost. Make sure that your foundational healthcare plan delivers primary care office visits with no-additional out of pocket for your employees. As you might have expected, EverydayCARE delivers in-office primary care, labs and even chiropractic care for $0 copay and no-deductible. 

Identify your budget and forecast an ROI

Most industry experts agree that the cost of turnover for a $10–12 hourly employee is between $3000-$4000. For many positions that require specialized training, this cost could be much higher. 

Businesses usually want to compete in this highly competitive labor market, so they are leveraging affordable core healthcare plans and offering them for free to their employees. The result is significantly reduced turnover.

Offer additional insurance options as a “buy-up” for catastrophic or high-dollar needs.

Everyone has a different definition of catastrophic, to a $10-12 hourly employee that might be $200. To a manager or supervisor that number might be higher. Each will likely have different financial protection requirements.

There are a lot of affordable solutions that can help protect against the unexpected.

Fixed Indemnity Plans—We have found that fixed indemnity solutions are a great option for lower-wage earners, not only are they affordable, but they typically don’t have a deductible associated with using the coverage.

Medical Cost Sharing—A rapidly emerging solution for businesses we serve is medical cost sharing. The concept started back in the early 80s, with predominately ministries, and today over a million people are participating in the sharing of medical expenses with a number of different communities. Redirect Health partners with Sedera, a business based (non-ministry) medical cost sharing community and delivers a comprehensive healthcare care solution that’s typically half the cost of traditional major medical.

Self-funded level funded major medical—For employers looking to offer a traditional major medical to employees, a new breed of high-performance affordable plans gives them transparency into the real cost of their healthcare spend. With this comes predictability of cost over multiple years and the opportunity to receive funds back at the end of year.  While these types of solutions have typically been available to only large employers, new level funded solutions are more popular than ever with small and medium-size employers looking to gain control over their healthcare costs. 

Foodservice businesses can deliver healthcare benefits to all employees without breaking the bank. The costs to provide benefits is a fraction of the costs associated with hiring and turnover—not to mention the opportunity costs of not having the right employees (and enough employees) on the team.

David Slepak is the Director of Business Development and Marketing at Redirect Health. He leads Redirect’s Accredited Advisor program, marketing strategy and new product development. 
Employee Management, Outside Insights, Story