COVID-19 has disrupted thousands of businesses on a multitude of levels. Restaurant franchise owners are among those who have been hit particularly hard, and employees of these businesses are worried about being able to afford medical care in a future afflicted by pandemics. The journey to a post-COVID-19 world is filled with uncertainty, and as these businesses reopen and find their footing, they face a big challenge—how to rebuild their businesses in an uncertain time while ensuring their employees remain healthy and not distracted by the challenge of acquiring healthcare.

Taking a Harder Look at Healthcare Policies and Programs

The world’s ongoing pandemic will have restaurant franchises taking a harder look at healthcare policies and programs. Before COVID-19, franchise owners looked to common practices to establish standard healthcare policies. As a result, many companies were unable to provide support and healthcare access for all employees during the wake of the pandemic, especially part-time and low-income workers. To continue these practices would cause risks for employees of all levels and, in turn, have a large effect on business performance and employee sentiment.

From a cost perspective, many healthcare plans are also incredibly expensive for franchise owners and the employees who pay premiums. Due to pricing, these policies and programs limit the number of employees who are able to receive access to healthcare, and in turn, medical assistance. Owners are now trying to find alternative programs that will provide greater access to care for all their employees—including low-wage and part-time employees.

Preparing for a Rise in Healthcare Costs

The overall impact the pandemic will have on health insurance programs is unknown, but there is an expectation that premiums are going to skyrocket. Meaning that there is a likelihood that many employees will not be able to afford access to care. Unfortunately, healthcare is already costly and many low wage employees cannot afford to pay the premiums—even worse, part-time employees often don’t qualify.

So why are these already high costs predicted to soar? There is an expectation that premiums are going to become even more expensive because of two words: worker’s compensation. If someone gets COVID-19 from an exposure at work, they will be able to make a claim. These types of claims could end up costing owners a significant amount of money, adding to the turmoil caused by the pandemic.

Overall, these high premiums will end up creating a burden on employers and create uncertainty for employees. This uncertainty can be harmful to those employees who need unforeseen medical assistance, including those who have lifelong COVID-related complications. To address these potential worries, employers will have to prepare for a more intense healthcare process and costs.

A New Approach to Healthcare

There needs to be a fundamental change to U.S. healthcare that enables franchise owners to feel confident their employees, low wage and part-time, have access to healthcare without breaking the bank. The health and well-being of all employees shouldn’t be a burden to any company – especially for restaurant franchises, whose owners are currently focusing on how to reopen and reestablish their businesses safely after the devastation of COVID-19.

When thinking about the future of healthcare, restaurant franchise owners need to consider a new healthcare plan. This plan must have the ability to empower employers to provide low-wage and part-time employees with ERISA and ACA-compliant healthcare at no cost—and create a sense of relief for worried owners. With this new type of healthcare system, owners will feel confident about a successful business and improved employee satisfaction. 

While the pandemic continues to change how businesses operate, one thing is for certain—the health and wellness of employees should be a priority and all employees should have access to healthcare. There is no telling when this global crisis will come to a close, or if we have yet to experience the worst, but by focusing on what franchise owners can do to help rebuild their businesses and ensure the health of their employees, the road to recovery looks a little bit clearer.

Dr. John Zabasky is co-founder and CEO of HealthWorX, a new kind of health insurance plan that uses an innovative approach and technology platform that is committed to providing healthcare access for all employees. His time as CEO at WorXsiteHR (part of HealthWorX), SoftEx, and Venturcorp has given him not only the opportunity to run and build organizations from the ground up, but also the opportunity to participate in numerous projects as a hands-on Technical Enterprise Architect and Program Manager. He has extensive experience with databases, program/project management and software development life cycles, and has applied most of these to various disciplines including ERP, benefits administration, payroll, HRIS, Insurance, IT outsourcing, staffing, and employee leasing. Whether it be expounding upon Adam Smith’s ‘Stage Theory’, utilizing trend analysis, or architecting complex enterprise software, creating systems has always been John’s passion.

Outside Insights, Story