True North Veterinary Hospital opened in December 2015 with a mission to serve small animals and their owners in the greater Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire. The hospital is in a rural area and is essential to the community. With one full-time doctor and a full-time staff of six, the business has its hands full providing excellent care to local animals.
True North Practice Manager Sarah Burke and the business’s owner wanted to provide a health benefit that could help existing employees and assist with growing their staff. They knew to pull in certified, skilled professionals, they’d need to offer something valuable.
When they looked into the available options, they ran into the same problems that many new and small businesses face.
For one, group health insurance was far too expensive for their budget. Even with a large contribution from True North, the employees would be left with premiums and deductibles they couldn't afford.
“Even with us spending a ridiculous amount of money, it was still super costly [for the employees] to be on the plans.”
Next, they considered offering stipends, but they knew stipends would be added to the employees’ income and taxed accordingly.
“There’s no legal way to give associates money to put towards health care costs without it counting as income. As a practice manager, I couldn’t just add it into their paycheck without it counting as income.”
After a web search, Sarah came across PeopleKeep. She learned that a PeopleKeep health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) benefit would allow the practice to set its costs and offer a benefit that would meet the needs of employees in different situations since some employees already had insurance.
With PeopleKeep, the diverse needs of True North’s employees can all be met. Employees on a spouse’s insurance can cover other expenses, like prescriptions, vision or dental care, not covered under that plan. Employees who never had insurance before have signed up for policies. They’ve all found the coverage they want by purchasing their own plans. Sarah says the employees are empowered to go to the doctor when they need to because they can rely on their reimbursement to defray the cost.
Offering a PeopleKeep benefit has also helped the practice to hire new staff.
“Since we got PeopleKeep, we have hired probably 50 percent of the people that we have, and it’s really helpful as far as just having that available. It’s hard as a person looking for a job to accept a job that doesn’t have health insurance. Having that ability to say that ‘I don’t offer insurance, but I do offer this allowance that you can use to help pay for your monthly insurance premium’ is extremely helpful.”