Navigating health insurance during uncertain times

Oct. 8, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera Health.

Americans continue to grapple with the social and economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Top that with a heated presidential election and the mixture is a confounding one for employers charting their near-term goals and needs.

Businesses are looking for ways to save and, if they can, improve the bottom line.

But to keep the best workers and avoid absenteeism or other long-term challenges, experts in health insurance agree that now’s not the time to scrimp on health coverage for employees. Instead, do your homework – look at your options – and maximize the value in the plan you have.

“There are many challenges for employers, and there’s certainly no single approach or ‘one size fits all’ method to face them,” said Corey Weeg, director of group and ancillary products with Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the shutdown, we’ve all seen the sweeping changes, the new regulations and the necessity to remain nimble. Businesses who use the resources offered in quality coverage – including personal guidance tailored to their teams – often have more success, no matter what happens.”

Valuable resources ready to use

When changes come, they often don’t arrive in an orderly fashion, as many employers learned last spring.

“We offer the expertise of client relationship executives (CRES) who are designated to help the employer evaluate options with their group coverage on every topic, from changes in regulations to open enrollment,” Weeg said. “This dedicated member-centered approach is valuable. We saw in March how some changes were unfolding day-by-day, and our members were able to avoid confusing situations with the help of this resource.”

As the federal CARES Act came online in the spring, it brought with it many changes, large and small. Relying on good information helps business leaders make better decisions.

“We allowed for more flexibility and helped employers understand what options were available to them to help their employees maintain coverage,” Weeg said. “Those sorts of considerations can be a complex problem to solve, especially with all the other pandemic-related chaos.”

Preferred plans can pay off

While the attraction of reducing costs through cutting what you offer your workforce might sound logical, it actually can be a mistake. Staying the course – and looking at options – makes more sense across the board.

“Small businesses have options. For example, preferred plans can provide value by connecting employees to cost savings and comprehensive health benefits,” Weeg said. An Avera preferred plan offers zero-dollar co-pays for primary care, urgent care and chiropractic visits, along with therapy visits for services such as physical or occupational health, or speech therapy.

Why value-added services are important in coverage

When a health plan includes incentives and complimentary services that add significant ease of use – and better health – employers can highlight these added items in recruiting and retention.

“Members in many small-group plans have access to services such as virtual visits, which are more frequently used these days, as well as membership discounts at select fitness centers,” Weeg said. “Plans also can include valuable extra services such as care management for chronic conditions, access to employee assistance programs at no cost and well-being technology. When you pair these with expert guidance, the future and its uncertainty is less scary.”

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Navigating health insurance during uncertain times

Like there isn’t enough uncertainty this year — add health insurance to the mix. Employers, this insight will help.

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