Hardware Retailing

NOV 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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Independent Thinking T he Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems like an oxymoron in today's world, as health insurance is almost anything but affordable. However, the fact of the matter is health insurance was a major issue before it became a mandate. As health insurance costs continue to severely outpace normal inflation, people are scrambling to find decent coverage with premiums they can afford. There seems to be a consensus in our industry about how challenging finding affordable health insurance is for independent retailers. Last summer, the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) hosted a Small Business Government roundtable, and the group listed the rising costs of health insurance as the No. 1 issue facing independent home improvement retailers. In addition, as part of the Hot Topics section of our Cost of Doing Business Study, we always ask respondents if there is anything they want us to add to the data collection. In each of the last five years, by far the No. 1 request is related to health insurance. Finally, people nearing retirement or those are who are currently retired nearly always say their primary concern revolves around rising health care costs. In fact, it is likely one of the top three expenses you incur personally. Whether you are the owner of a business that is required to provide health insurance under the ACA or you provide it as a way to attract employees, you are likely looking for a solution for a quality health insurance plan at affordable rates. Interestingly enough, a major wholesaler recently asked us if we had a solution for health care as they haven't been able to develop a plan to help their retailers control costs. Indeed we do, and in fact, the NRHA Health Care Plan was developed to not only help retailers find alternative solutions, but to help NRHA educate the industry on changes in the law and strategies to combat rising costs. We developed the NRHA Health Care Plan because we saw our own rates increase by almost 15 percent in 2013. With a young workforce and moderate claims, this increase didn't sit well with us. Our broker at the time said it was just a standard increase that year, and while our claims were fairly decent, we were being punished because other groups were spending more on health care claims. To us, that wasn't right. We worked with Bob Chiesa, president and CEO of Custom Benefits Insurance Group, to develop a plan not only for NRHA, but also for independent home improvement retailers. Since 2013, NRHA has helped hundreds of retailers and thousands of their employees either save money by participating in the NRHA Health Care Plan or by using one of our quotes to help lower their current quote. The NRHA Health Care Plan is a hybrid plan that acts like a fully insured plan, but also has the internal workings of a partially self-funded plan. In simple terms, you pay a set premium that will not increase during the year, but at year-end, based on your claims experience, you could receive a refund on premiums paid. In fact, in June this year, a retailer received a refund in excess of $22,000. As for premium increases, NRHA has been on the plan for six years, and the highest increase we've seen is 5.45 percent, and in three of those years, we actually received a premium decrease. Read our conversation with Chiesa on Page 16 for more information about the current health insurance market. To get your own quote, visit nrha.org/health-insurance or contact Chiesa at cbigi@msn.com. David Gowan, Vice President of Finance and Business Services dgowan@nrha.org " NRHA has helped hundreds of retailers and thousands of their employees either save money by participating in the NRHA Health Care Plan or by using one of our quotes to help lower their current quote. " Think Healthy Thoughts HARDWARE RETAILING | November 2018 8

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