The marijuana business has grown by leaps and bounds in just 10 short years. Currently, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 36 states and completely legal in 15 of those states. Although the industry is anticipated to be worth $100 billion by 2030, according to Business Insider, employers still struggle to find health insurance solutions for their employees.
Unfortunately, the insurance industry is behind the time with employee benefits and emerging industries like cannabis, and employees are paying the price by having to secure their own insurance. How can business owners find a solution that works for them?
What options are available?
The insurance industry still views cannabis as a high-risk category, just like it looked at casino hotels and resorts in Las Vegas 30 years ago. So many of the provided options are expensive and require employer contributions and minimum participation requirements. However, a consulting firm who offers specialty insurance solutions can help you find the best options for your business. Often, they have access to more programs that large insurance companies do not offer, but employers want to offer their employees. Consulting with the right expert will open the door for the best and most affordable solutions.
What programs should you provide?
Choosing what to provide as an employer can be overwhelming because there are a lot of options available, but in an industry that insurance carriers have a dated view towards is very difficult. A few of the most important programs are group term life, accident medical plan, dental/vision, critical illness and hospital coverage plans that offer guaranteed acceptance.
Group term life insurance allows businesses to offer their employees a base amount of coverage, and employees can choose to purchase additional coverage for their spouse or children.
Depending on the type of business you run, an accident medical plan could be another good option for your employees. Accident insurance covers more serious injuries like a broken limb, loss of a limb, burns, paralysis and more. Additionally, dental and vision are two standard programs that companies typically offer at a low cost for their team. The final two programs greatly help families who would otherwise take a huge financial impact if they or their loved ones had a serious medical emergency. Critical Illness plans provides additional coverage for medical emergencies like heart attack, stroke or cancer, and hospital coverage helps cover unexpected medical costs resulting from a hospital stay.
What to look for in a program
Most insurance companies don’t understand the business and can’t provide the flexibility that cannabis businesses need, but there are solutions that are available that can fit your needs. When making a decision, look for insurance products from a top-rated insurance company that are guaranteed issue with no medical questions. Second, check to make sure that there are no employment waiting periods for employees who are part-time or seasonal. This allows employees to be covered by insurance right away rather than waiting months to become eligible for benefits.
What to expect moving forward
Once you’ve determined how you plan to move forward with health insurance, you may wonder, “What’s next?” Some employers choose to contribute to their employee’s coverage, but that’s not always the case. Employees can choose to pay for their coverage through a payroll deduction, credit card or bank draft. One added benefit you may notice is happier and more loyal employees. A survey by America’s Health Insurance Plan found that 56% of employees with employer-provided health coverage said coverage remains a key factor in their choice to stay at their current job.
The insurance industry is slow to adapt and business owners in the growing cannabis industry can’t afford to stand by and wait for changes. By making the time to get educated on health insurance solutions for your company, you’ll not only have healthier employees, but also a company culture that attracts and retains strong employees that help make your business successful.
Wayne Goshkarian is an insurance expert with more than 40 years of industry experience. Goshkarian is the founder of Dylan Consulting and is known for bringing cutting-edge technology to the slow-changing insurance industry. He was one of the first to create the laptop employee benefits communication system in 1993 for a large casino hotel and a web-based enrollment system in 1999 for a tech company. He has consulted, enrolled and provided services to companies like Safeway Foods, Mariner Post-Acute Network, Children’s Hospital, Rio Casino, Ameristar Casino and many other large national companies.