By Pash Brar:
I am constantly asked by truck drivers on how they can get health benefits for themselves and their families. They pay for each of their children’s and family member’s dental visits in cash, as well as eyeglasses and prescription medications. These costs add up very quickly. Some driver’s even skip visits to dentists because they cannot afford them and end up paying a huge bill later when a preventable minor problem has hugely escalated. Some skip doctor appointments as they cannot afford to pay for prescriptions and resort to home remedies.
I followed up with several large insurance companies that offer individual and family health plans which can be bought privately. My research revealed private plans are very expensive. I was unable to find an affordable option for a family. If you have more than one child, the family plan adds up very quickly and can end up costing more than monthly rent in some cases. With more research the best health plans I was able to find were those offered to groups. For example when I worked for a few banks while in university, they offered health benefits. I had 80% of dental covered for two dental visits per year for example. The other 20% I paid at the time of the visit. Banks have multiple branches and numerous employees. They were able to provide affordable benefits and each employee had a portion taken from their pay cheques each month to cover the amount of coverage requested, whether for an individual or for a family.
To get a group we need a few people. For a truck driver to be part of a group, this means the boss must be involved. The owner of the trucking firm can locate a group plan insurance supplier, check prices and then decide how much of the coverage he or she as the owner of the company will pay and how much the drivers and office staff will pay. There are plans where the employer can pay 100% of the benefits, 75%, 50% or even 25%. The group as a whole also needs to decide which benefits are needed, such as life insurance, disability, dental, pharmaceutical, vision or extra dental such as orthodontics. The group plan price increases with each additional coverage.
For an employer to offer benefits, there are certain advantages. First, the owner of the firm can get benefits as well. It’s highly likely as a self employed owner of a company that they themselves may need coverage for their own family. Also, there is high turnover in trucking. A driver may think twice before leaving a firm that offers health benefits. This builds loyalty. Offering health benefits may also attract more drivers to join that firm because they want benefits and retain them for years to come. Benefits are also tax deductible for the employer. The benefit portions deducted from employees on the other side are pre-tax dollars, which leaves more take home pay after the deduction.
A huge group is not needed to start a health benefit plan. As little as three people are all that is needed. An organization that offers benefits to its drivers and office employees, establishes a level of trust and loyalty. It shows they care about their drivers, their employees, and their families.
Trucking company owners are reliant on truck drivers to make themselves and the company income. It makes sense to protect these drivers and their families. A driver is an investment, so protect your investment with a group health plan. I encourage drivers to approach their bosses and vice versa to establish health benefit plans which are affordable and beneficial to the entire organization.