Back to the May-Jun 2021 issue

Your Checklist For Group Health Insurance Shopping

By Ryan Donovan

Take the guesswork out of health insurance renewals — check all the boxes on this list to guide your search.

There’s a lot to consider when shopping for group health insurance for your city. Employees want the lowest premiums, the lowest out-of-pocket costs, and all their health care covered. Leaders want a quality plan that helps attract and retain talent, but also want stable and predictable costs they can budget for. It can be difficult to know where to start. Use the following checklist when preparing for renewals and shopping for group health insurance.

A checklist on a clip boardAffordability

Often employees and administration look at one number: the premium. Rightfully so, since it’s the number that is guaranteed to impact their pocketbooks and their budgets.

Here’s what to look for in a plan when it comes to affordability:

  • Multiple network options to choose from, increasing the likelihood employees can see their provider of choice. 
  • Multiple out-of-pocket options that allow employees to choose the level that works best for them.
  • Wellness programs and other incentives to encourage a healthy lifestyle, which in theory, helps control health care expenses and future premiums.
  • Transparency and capped expenses when it comes to administration and member fees, program costs, and taxes.


The last thing you want once you’re committed to a plan is a surprise hike in rates. An upfront time investment to select a stable plan can save you time and stress in the long run.

A stable plan features:

  • Fair premiums and annual rate increases that align with medical inflation of 7%-9%.
  • A multi-year rate guarantee, giving you future premium stability that you can count on for budgeting and union negotiations.
  • Tools you can use to help you do an apples-to-apples comparison of health insurance plans, including actuarial values of your current plans and plans to consider.


The quality of the programming and support offered by your plan can have a life-changing impact on the health and well-being of your employees, which can help control health plan costs.

A valuable plan includes:

A comprehensive wellness program to support a positive and empowering culture within your organization, such as gym discounts, wellness incentives, and other programs to improve personal health and wellness.

Health savings account eligibility, with provisions in place to yield valuable first-dollar coverage for preventive care. This stretches your employee’s premium dollars by taking advantage of tax savings.

Access to alternative forms of health care delivery — like telehealth. Make it easy for your employees to get the right care, at the right time for them, and in the most efficient way.


When you’ve got an urgent question, need data, or need to prepare for open enrollment, support from your health plan is critical.

Here’s what stellar service looks like:

  • Access to reports and help developing strategic actions designed to control health plan costs.
  • Notice of renewal rates and plans 100-120 days before renewal, giving you time to select the best option for you. 
  • Answers to day-to-day questions within 24 hours. 
  • Ready-to-go or ready-to-customize materials to help communicate with your employees about your plan.
  • Support for you and your employees on healthy and happy living.

As you start preparing for plan renewals, use this guide to find the best fit for your city.

A strong health insurance plan that checks all the boxes can help attract and retain talented employees. A responsive and supportive health plan partner can make your life much easier and empower you as you carry out your public service mission to your staff and community. 

Ryan Donovan is manager of insurance and risk management solutions at Sourcewell ( Sourcewell is a member of the League’s Business Leadership Council (