What is the Costco health insurance marketplace?

Costco started in the group health insurance market by partnering with Aetna, but the system has since changed to offer access to multiple health insurance companies. The Costco business health insurance marketplace works with Custom Benefit Consultants (CBC). Costco Insurance Agency, with CBC, helps to connect business owners with health insurance plans for their employees.

The marketplace provides business owners with access to medical, dental, vision and other group benefits that they can offer to their employees. Many different insurance companies offer these, and availability varies by location.

Costco Insurance Agency doesn't underwrite plans, collect premiums or pay claims. It acts solely as an agent.

Costco health insurance benefits

Costco members who are small business owners can choose medical, vision, dental, life, and disability plans and other voluntary options.

"The CBC Health Insurance Marketplace for Costco members has created a convenient place for Costco members to go to address all of their questions, proactively research options, and make an informed decision regarding the health insurance needs of their employees," says Kenneth Bahl, principal with Custom Benefit Consultants, Inc., in Las Vegas. "We've created an efficient shopping and vendor evaluation experience to help small business owners evaluate carriers, plans, and budgeted expenses."

So what health insurance plans are available through Costco? Carrier and plan options available through Costco/CBC may vary, based on your state and geographic area.

"Depending on your region, all major carriers and many regional carriers are represented," Bahl says.

The marketplace is designed to simplify matters for small businesses. But it can also generate savings, particularly for companies with more employees. Case studies demonstrate that some larger clients have saved 25% in plan costs, for example.

How the Costco health insurance process works

So, how do you get Costco health insurance for your business? Shopping for large or small business health insurance can be done via the CostcoBusinessQuote.com website. After entering key information about you, your business, and your employees, customized health insurance plan quotes are generated. And a health care ambassador is available by phone or chat to answer any questions you have along the way.

"The process is simple. We gather a census of eligible employees, including age, gender, and ZIP code and some very basic company information like location, contact persons, and the type of business," Bahl says. "In most cases, our system will return an automated quote from the carriers and plans in your specific area. You can sort through these quotes based on your own criteria, such as monthly premium, deductible amounts or plan types."

Bahl adds that you can use a budget modeling tool on the website to better understand the impact of employer contributions based on either a percentage or flat dollar amount.

Once you're ready to commit to a plan, you can complete the process online or with the help of a health care ambassador available via online chat, phone at (800) 611-9056, or email costcobusinessquote@cbcins.com.

"Our business portal enables real-time access to the tools needed to manage plan changes and additions and review invoices prior to payment," Bahl says.

You can also count on continued support and guidance from a CBC health care ambassador post-sale.

What to consider before choosing a health care plan

Of course, Costco isn't the only source for small business health insurance. It's important to do your homework and shop around carefully to locate the right coverage and benefits for you and your employees.

"Be sure to find a partner who can help you understand the regulatory and market dynamics that can be very specific to where you live," Bahl says. "This partner should have the resources to support you and your employees and their families throughout the year, not just before enrollment."

Additionally, carefully evaluate network access to ensure that your preferred providers continue to participate in the plans you are considering.

"Networks can vary greatly, even with the same carrier in particular areas," Bahl says.

Also, don't forget to include your employees' input and preferences, if possible.

"Some of your staff may have services planned for the coming year and consulting with them in this process can help them better understand the differences in the options available," he says.

How much is Costco health insurance?

The cost of a group health insurance plan through Costco will vary based on several different factors. They include the type of plans you choose, what options – like dental and vision – you decide upon, and the size of your company.

The health insurance company you choose to work with will also affect the cost. Costco’s role is that of an agency, which means it partners with health insurance companies and help you find the right choice for your business. Costco doesn’t determine the cost of health insurance through the marketplace.

What health insurance plans are available through Costco?

The availability of plans will vary from state to state and company to company. The best way to find out what plans are available for your business is to request quotes through the CBC website.

How does Costco health insurance help business owners meet requirements?

You may be required to provide health insurance coverage to your workers by law, but you should consider it even if you aren’t.

"Currently, the Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations do not require small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to offer coverage to their employees," Bahl says. "But many small business owners continue to shop, procure and offer coverage for several reasons. These include maintaining a competitive benefits package that enables them to compete for talent, offering a richer benefits package that has less out-of-pocket exposure than in the individual market, and providing continuity of coverage."

Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty that required most Americans to have health insurance. However, a growing number of states have their own mandate.

"Many small group employers find group health insurance plans to be more competitive, more affordable, and simpler to access and administer,” Bahl says.

Costco’s health insurance marketplace makes finding coverage for your employees easier. Whether you’re required to or not, providing health insurance can make working for your company more appealing to potential employees and help retain the ones you have.