By EMILEE CANTRELL
For non-profits and small businesses, staying competitive and recruiting high-quality employees in a town like Los Alamos can be difficult.
Many people work for Los Alamos National Laboratory where potential employees expect benefits, like health insurance.
Before the Affordable Care Act kicked in, health insurance was a luxury that not every business could offer their employees, making it even harder for them to recruit the best. The good news for small businesses and non-profits is that now they can participate in beWellnm for Small Business.
Katherine Bruell, the executive director of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), knows just how important the health insurance she provides through beWellnm for Small Business is to her employees.
“We want the best employees and in order to find them, we offer health insurance,” Bruell said. “In order to be competitive, we don’t really have a choice.”
PEEC is an organization that educates both children and adults about the Pajarito Plateau. They manage the Los Alamos Nature Center and spend time in Los Alamos classrooms teaching students about nature. They serve about 40,000 people a year and rely on an exceptional staff to keep visitors coming and to educate the community.
Before PEEC could offer health insurance, employees had to find and pay for their own plans if they weren’t already covered by a family member’s policy. Now, thanks to beWellnm, PEEC funds one-half of the monthly premium for their employees who choose to participate.
“Most of our employees are enrolled in insurance through their spouse or other family member,” Bruell said. “But without beWellnm, I might not have health insurance so I am very grateful.”
Bruell said she wants to help spread the word to other local businesses. Unlike enrollment for individuals and families, businesses are able to sign up for beWellnm for Small Business anytime during the year.
“It’s easy and very straightforward. I would absolutely recommend that non-profits and small businesses call a broker and find out what they can offer their employees,” Bruell said. “Not only can it make an organization more competitive, but it can also boost morale and reduce turnover.”
While Bruell is thankful none of her employees have had to use their insurance on anything drastic so far, she’s glad they have it. “I think we’re a generally healthier group because of it and you just never know when something might happen,” she said.
“There are many different opinions out there about how states can best facilitate the purchase of health insurance, but at the end of the day, having access to quality plans is what’s most important,” said Maureen Manring, Director of Communications and Outreach for beWellnm. “BeWellnm for Small Business plans give business owners the tools they need to help keep their employees healthy and productive, and that’s a good thing.”