Open enrollment for 2019 health insurance begins Nov. 1. The Phoenix area is getting more coverage options this year, but with more choices comes greater opportunity for confusion. Additionally, there was a nearly 75 percent cut in federal “navigator” grants, which in the past have helped people understand and enroll in health insurance. For small- to medium-sized businesses who may not have the resources, time or expertise to navigate the complexities of the industry, enrolling in coverage can be a challenge. 

Here are four recommendations from Gravie, a company that’s been reinventing employee benefits since 2013, to help you navigate the often-confusing health insurance landscape: 

• Get educated: Share your business’s goals and discuss your options with an insurance advisor. A little research ahead of time can go a long way in saving you time, money or misfortune throughout the year. “Most people think about health insurance one week out of the year. It’s not something people enjoy, so they take what their broker shares with them at face value,” says Gravie CEO Abir Sen. “While you don’t need to know every nuance of the industry, it is important to know what resources, plans and models you have available to your business.”

• Set a budget: Defined contribution is becoming a popular approach among many employers because it offers cost certainty, value, and administrative ease, all while offering employees more choice. With this approach, employers choose how much money to contribute towards employee benefits, and employees select their own plans.

• Partner with a benefits expert: If you’re considering an individual market solution for employee benefits, you may want to partner with an expert in the industry who can answer questions, provide guidance, and keep you compliant. “Beyond the obvious costs of healthcare, the time spent managing benefits or helping employees navigate their plan can be a drain on company resources – especially when those responsibilities fall to an executive whose main role is not benefits management,” Sen says.

• Don’t be afraid to change course: While it may be tempting to simply re-up a plan from last year, evaluating your options may save you money, time and hassle.

Businesses can find more information in Gravie’s new eBook, “Better Employee Health Benefits in 2019: Understanding Your Options as a Small- to Medium-Sized Employer,” available for free download at Individuals can chat with an advisor at