Finding the Best Small Business Health Insurance in Nebraska

Operating a small business in Nebraska comes with many challenges, one of the biggest being providing quality, affordable health insurance for you and your employees. With rising premiums and deductibles, it can be tempting to opt for bare bones coverage just to check the box. But skimping on health insurance can cost you more in the long run with high out-of-pocket costs and low satisfaction among your staff.

Fortunately, small businesses in Nebraska have options when it comes to health insurance. With a bit of research, you can find a plan that fits both your budget and provides robust coverage for your team. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when choosing a small business health insurance plan in Nebraska.

Overview of Small Business Health Insurance in Nebraska

Small business health insurance plans in Nebraska are issued by private insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and UnitedHealthcare. The Nebraska Department of Insurance regulates these policies.

Some key things to know:

  • Small business is defined as 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). This is your total number of employees calculated on a full-time basis. Two part-time workers equal one FTE.

  • You must have at least two employees to qualify for a small group plan in Nebraska. Sole proprietors and businesses with just one employee cannot purchase small group coverage. They would need to shop for individual health insurance plans instead.

  • Nebraska has no state mandate for small business to offer health insurance. But there are federal regulations like the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act that come with penalties for larger businesses that don’t offer adequate coverage.

  • Self-employed business owners can deduct health insurance premiums on their personal income taxes, with some limitations.

  • Pre-existing conditions cannot be factored into eligibility or premiums on small group plans in Nebraska.

Comparing Small Business Health Insurance Carriers in Nebraska

The first step is deciding which insurance company to get quotes from. Here are some of the major players in Nebraska’s small group health insurance market to consider:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska – BCBSNE is the largest insurer in the state with the biggest provider network. They offer HMO and PPO plans.

  • UnitedHealthcare – This national carrier has a strong presence in Nebraska. They provide both fully insured and self-funded plan options.

  • Medica – Medica focuses on the individual and small group markets. They have HMO and POS plans available.

  • Aetna – Aetna offers PPOs and an EPO plan with a narrow provider network. Not available in all Nebraska counties.

  • Cigna – Cigna has HMO and Open Access Plus (OAP) options for small businesses. Limited presence in rural areas.

  • Assurant – Assurant is best known for packages that combine health with dental and vision coverage.

Be sure to get quotes from at least three carriers to find the best overall value. Having a licensed broker assist with the process can also help surface hidden discounts.

Small Group Plan Types in Nebraska

There are several different types of small business health insurance plans available in Nebraska, which differ based on how you access care:

  • HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – Requires choosing a primary care provider (PCP) to coordinate care. Must get referrals to see specialists. Lower premiums but least flexibility.

  • PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) – Gives you the freedom to see any doctor without referrals. Higher premiums in exchange for more choice and flexibility.

  • POS (Point-of-Service) – Combines aspects of HMO and PPO plans. You select a PCP but can self-refer to specialists for a higher copay or coinsurance.

  • EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization) – A network-only PPO plan. All care must be received in-network except emergencies. Lower premiums than traditional PPOs.

When choosing a plan type, weigh your priorities in flexibility versus cost savings. Also make sure the carrier offers adequate network coverage in your area.

Key Factors That Impact Small Business Health Insurance Rates

The premiums – how much you pay monthly for coverage – will vary significantly between different small group health plans in Nebraska. These key factors influence the rates you’ll be quoted:

  • Plan type – HMOs tend to be cheapest, followed by EPOs and POS plans. PPOs have the highest premiums.

  • Plan benefits – Lower deductibles and copays raise rates. A $5,000 deductible plan will have lower premiums than a $1,000 deductible option.

  • Dependent coverage – Including spouses and children costs more than employee-only policies.

  • Age of employees – Older workers will skew rates higher. Buying through associations or chambers of commerce can help balance out age across a larger pool.

  • Industry – Some occupations are priced higher due to risks and claims history. Healthcare, construction and landscaping businesses often see elevated rates.

  • Tobacco use – Insurers can add a tobacco surcharge of up to 1.5 times the regular rate if you have employees who use tobacco products.

  • Group size – Oddly, rates are often cheaper when you have 20+ enrolled versus under 10. Larger groups spread the risk over more individuals.

The best way to get an accurate picture of potential rates is to get quotes directly from insurers after you input your census details like ages and locations of your workforce. Rates can swing more than 30% between carriers.

Choosing Plan Benefits As a Nebraska Small Business

The next big decision is selecting the right level of coverage. This requires balancing cost control with providing valuable protections for your employees. Some factors to consider:

  • Deductibles – Will you offer a high deductible plan (over $3,000) with lower premiums, or a low deductible option that reduces out-of-pocket costs? High deductible plans make sense if your team is generally healthy.

  • Coinsurance – After meeting their deductible, will employees pay 20% coinsurance or less for care? Plans with 10% coinsurance provide better coverage.

  • Copays – What will employees pay upfront for office visits, drugs, and other common services? Low copays ($20-$40) improve access to care.

  • Out-of-pocket maximums – This puts a cap on total expenses. Limits below $8,000 per person protect employees from massive bills.

  • Prescription drugs – Will generic, preferred and non-preferred brand drugs be covered? Look for plans with low drug copays and deductibles under $500.

  • Preventive care – All small group plans must cover dozens of preventive services at no charge, like annual physicals and cancer screenings.

Don’t just default to your current benefits. Shop carefully and run the plan details by your employees to find coverage that provides real value.

Tips for Lowering Small Business Health Insurance Costs

While rates are certainly on the rise, there are ways Nebraska small business owners can reduce costs when providing health benefits:

  • Consider narrow network plans that limit your choices but provide discounted access to certain providers. Great if you have a hospital or doctor group you love.

  • Choose reference-based pricing plans that incentivize employees to use cost-effective providers that fall under a set price threshold. Can yield 10-15% savings.

  • See if your chamber of commerce offers discounts on plans for members. Some even let you pool with other small businesses to improve rates.

  • Fund an HSA (Health Savings Account) for high deductible plans to make the out-of-pocket costs easier for your team to handle.

  • Analyze how you can reduce claims through employee wellness initiatives, safety/ergonomic improvements, and health management for chronic conditions.

  • Consider partly or fully self-funded plans once you have over 20 employees enrolled. Just make sure to have stop loss insurance to limit financial risk.

With a smart strategy, you can absolutely contain costs while still providing your Nebraska workforce with health coverage that protects their well-being and gives them peace of mind. Consult with both reputable brokers and directly with health insurance carriers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska to find your best option.

Small Business Health Insurance


How much is health insurance in Nebraska per month?

Average cost of health insurance by family size in Nebraska In Nebraska, a family of four pays an average of $2,209 per month for a Silver health insurance plan. Every child age 14 and under costs $414 each month.

Does Nebraska require you to have health insurance?

Provisions of the law have continued to be phased in following passage. As of January 1, 2014, most U.S. citizens and legal residents are required by law to have qualifying health care coverage or pay an annual tax penalty for every month they go without insurance.

What percentage of small businesses provide health insurance?

Small employers compete for talent in filling open positions and are aware that health insurance is an important benefit for many employees and job seekers.” Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Over half (56%) of small employers reported that they currently offer health insurance to employees and 44% percent do not.

Does Nebraska use healthcare gov?

Nebraska uses the federally run health insurance Marketplace (exchange),, where residents can purchase individual or family health insurance coverage. The Nebraska Marketplace provides access to health insurance products from four private insurers, all of which offer coverage statewide.

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