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What Is The Difference Between Level Funded & Fully Insured

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What Is The Difference Between Level Funded & Fully Insured

When providing health insurance for employees, employers must consider two main options: level-funded and fully insured plans.

While both offer benefits to employees, they have distinct differences that may make one more suitable for certain businesses than the other.

NPA Benefits provides both level-funded and fully insured plans. This article will explore the differences between these two options to help employers decide which plan is best for their needs.

The Need For Level Funded And Fully Insured Plans

Health insurance has become an indispensable aspect of modern life, offering a safety net beyond medical care. The combined importance of health insurance encompasses various dimensions, ranging from financial security to overall well-being.

Financial Protection And Risk Mitigation

One of the primary benefits of health insurance lies in its ability to provide financial protection against unexpected medical expenses. In a world where healthcare costs are on a perpetual rise, having a comprehensive health insurance plan can shield individuals and families from the financial burden of medical treatments. The cost of hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, and preventive care can accumulate rapidly, and health insurance acts as a crucial buffer against these potential financial crises.

Access To Quality Healthcare

Health insurance plays a pivotal role in ensuring access to quality healthcare services. Insured individuals often have a more comprehensive range of options when choosing healthcare providers, hospitals, and specialists. This facilitates timely and effective medical interventions and contributes to preventive care and early detection of health issues. The assurance of financial coverage encourages individuals to seek medical attention promptly, preventing the escalation of health problems due to delayed treatment.

Promoting Preventive Care And Wellness

Beyond covering the costs of medical treatments, health insurance encourages a proactive approach to health through preventive care. Many insurance plans offer coverage for vaccinations, screenings, and wellness programs, incentivizing individuals to prioritize their health before the onset of serious illnesses. This emphasis on preventive measures leads to healthier individuals and contributes to the overall well-being of communities.

Alleviating Mental And Emotional Stress

The combined importance of health insurance extends to mental and emotional well-being. Knowing that one is covered by health insurance provides security and peace of mind. The fear of financial ruin due to unexpected medical emergencies is significantly reduced, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery without the added stress of mounting medical bills. This mental well-being, in turn, positively impacts physical health and overall quality of life.

Supporting Long-Term Financial Planning

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Health insurance is a crucial component of long-term financial planning. Unforeseen medical expenses can deplete savings and disrupt financial goals. With health insurance, individuals can safeguard their financial stability and assets. This is particularly important as medical emergencies can strike at any age, and having insurance coverage ensures that individuals can navigate such situations without compromising their financial future.

The combined importance of health insurance cannot be overstated. It is a multifaceted tool that provides financial protection and enhances access to quality healthcare, promotes preventive measures, alleviates mental and emotional stress, and supports long-term financial planning. As an integral part of a holistic approach to well-being, health insurance empowers individuals and families to lead healthier, more secure lives in an unpredictable world.

What Is Level Funded?

Level-funded plans are a type of self-funded health insurance arrangement. Under this structure, an employer pays a fixed monthly amount to cover employees’ medical claims and administrative costs. The monthly fee is determined based on the number of covered employees and their expected healthcare expenses.

However, unlike fully insured plans, level-funded plans come with stop-loss insurance. If an employee has unexpectedly high medical expenses, the stop-loss insurance will kick in and cover those costs beyond a predetermined limit.

Benefits Of Level-Funded Plans

Level-funded health insurance plans have gained popularity recently, offering a unique blend of flexibility and cost-effectiveness for employers and employees. Unlike traditional insurance models, level-funded plans provide a middle ground between fully insured and self-funded options. Here are some key benefits associated with level-funded plans.

Financial Predictability

One of the primary advantages of level-funded plans is the financial predictability they offer to businesses. With traditional health insurance, employers often face unpredictable premium fluctuations based on their employee’s health status and claim history. In contrast, paying future medical claims and level-funded plans involves a fixed monthly cost, which allows businesses to budget more effectively.

Customizable Coverage

Level-funded plans provide an opportunity for employers to tailor coverage to meet the specific needs of their workforce. This customization extends beyond the essential benefits typically offered in fully insured plans. Employers can work with insurers to design a plan that aligns with the unique healthcare requirements of their employees, ensuring that the coverage is comprehensive and cost-efficient.

Potential Cost Savings

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While the fixed monthly cost of level-funded plans provides financial predictability, there is also the potential for cost savings. In traditional fully insured plans, unused premiums are typically not refunded to the employer. In level-funded plans, any surplus funds at the end of the year, resulting from lower-than-expected claims, may be returned to the employer. This allows businesses to benefit financially from a healthier and less costly year regarding healthcare claims.

Claims Transparency

Level-funded plans often come with a higher degree of transparency regarding claims data. Employers can gain insights into their workforce’s health and wellness patterns, enabling them to make informed decisions about wellness programs and employee benefits. This transparency helps identify areas where preventative measures can be implemented, potentially reducing future healthcare costs.

Employee Engagement

These plans can enhance employee engagement by providing a more personalized approach to healthcare. Employees may appreciate the ability to choose from various coverage options, fostering a sense of control over their healthcare decisions. Additionally, the potential for cost savings can be communicated to employees, contributing to a positive perception of the benefits package offered by their employer.

Level-funded health insurance plans offer a middle-ground solution for businesses seeking financial predictability, customizable coverage, and potential cost savings. The transparency and flexibility associated with these plans contribute to a positive experience for employers and employees in managing healthcare expenses.

What Is Fully Insured?

Fully insured plans are the more traditional option for providing health insurance to employees. With this type of plan, the employer pays a set monthly premium to an insurance company, which, in turn, assumes all the risk and pays for employees’ medical claims.

Under a fully insured plan, employers do not have to worry about fluctuating monthly costs based on employee healthcare expenses. The insurance company takes on that risk, and the employer pays a fixed monthly amount regardless of claim costs.

Benefits Of Fully Insured

Fully insured plans offer various benefits, providing individuals and businesses with comprehensive coverage. These plans typically include essential health services, preventive care, and medical treatments. With a fully insured policy, policyholders can have peace of mind knowing that their healthcare needs are covered, reducing the financial burden associated with unexpected medical expenses.

Cost Predictability

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One significant advantage of fully insured plans is cost predictability. Policyholders pay a fixed premium, making it easier to budget for healthcare expenses. This stability helps individuals and businesses manage their finances more effectively, claims costs, avoiding the uncertainty of self-funded plans. With predictable costs, policyholders can better plan for future healthcare needs and allocate resources accordingly.

Risk Mitigation

Fully insured plans transfer the financial risk of healthcare expenses from the policyholder to the insurance carrier. This risk mitigation is particularly valuable for businesses, shielding them from unforeseen and potentially catastrophic medical costs. By partnering with an insurance carrier, organizations can focus on their core operations without the worry of absorbing the full financial impact of a severe medical event.

Access To Provider Networks

Fully insured plans often come with access to extensive provider networks, ensuring that policyholders can receive care from a wide range of healthcare professionals. This network can include hospitals, clinics, specialists, and primary care physicians. The breadth of options allows individuals to choose healthcare providers that best meet their needs, self funding, fostering flexibility and convenience in obtaining medical services.

Regulatory Compliance

Fully insured plans adhere to various regulations and compliance standards set by government authorities. This adherence helps policyholders avoid legal complications and ensures that their healthcare benefits comply with applicable laws. For businesses, this means less administrative burden and a reduced risk of legal issues related to employee benefits, creating a smoother and more secure healthcare experience.

Employee Satisfaction And Retention

For businesses offering fully insured health plans to employees, there’s a positive impact on job satisfaction and retention. Comprehensive health coverage is a sought-after benefit for employees, and by providing a fully insured plan, employers contribute to the overall well-being and job satisfaction of their workforce. This, in turn, can enhance employee loyalty and reduce turnover rates.

Fully insured health plans offer a range of benefits, including comprehensive coverage, cost predictability, risk mitigation, access to provider networks, third-party administrator, regulatory compliance, and improved employee satisfaction. NPA Benefits offers fully insured plans to protect and support individuals’ and businesses’ healthcare needs.

Level Funded Vs Fully Insured | Key Differences

The main difference between level-funded and fully insured plans is the level of risk that each party takes. The employer assumes more risk with level-funded plans by paying for employee claims directly. However, they also have potential cost savings if overall claims are lower than expected.

1. Risk and Responsibility

In a fully insured health plan, the employer pays a fixed premium to an insurance carrier. This premium covers the cost of medical claims, administrative expenses, a level funded plan, and a margin for profit for the insurer. The insurance company assumes the risk associated with healthcare claims, offering predictability to the employer but limiting their ability to control costs directly.

Level-funded plans, on the other hand, represent a hybrid approach. Employers contribute a fixed amount to a claims fund each month. This fund covers employees’ medical expenses with an additional administrative cost allocation. The employer assumes the risk for claims up to a certain threshold, and any surplus in the claims fund may be returned to them.

2. Financial Flexibility

One of the primary advantages of fully insured plans is financial predictability. Employers pay a set premium, making budgeting straightforward. However, this predictability comes at a cost, level funding as premiums are often higher to account for the insurance carrier assuming the risk.

Level-funded plans offer greater financial flexibility. Employers can save money if claims are lower than expected since they only pay for actual medical expenses, not a predetermined premium. Conversely, employers may be responsible for additional costs up to a specified limit if claims exceed projections.

3. Customization And Control

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The insurance carrier manages the plan design with fully insured plans, leaving employers limited flexibility. The insurer typically predetermines plan options, self funded plan, coverage details, and cost-sharing arrangements. Employers have little control over specific aspects of the plan.

Level-funded plans provide more customization options. Employers can design the plan according to their workforce’s needs. They can choose coverage levels, self funded health plan, cost-sharing arrangements, and other plan features. This level of control allows for tailoring the health benefits to the employees’ unique requirements.

4. Regulatory Compliance

Fully insured plans are subject to state insurance regulations. Compliance responsibilities, such as adherence to mandated benefits and coverage requirements, primarily fall on the insurance carrier. Employers benefit from the carrier’s expertise in navigating and ensuring compliance with state regulations.

Level-funded health plans are regulated by state insurance laws and federal laws governing self-funded plans. This dual regulatory oversight adds complexity but allows employers to avoid some state-mandated benefits, giving them more flexibility in plan design.

5. Claim Experience And Renewals

With fully insured plans, the insurance carrier is responsible for managing claims. The employer’s premium is typically adjusted annually based on the insurer’s overall claims experience. Renewals are influenced by the broader risk pool, potentially resulting in more significant premium increases during years of high claims.

In level-funded plans, the employer directly experiences the impact of their workforce’s claims experience. Renewals are influenced by the specific claims history of the employer, providing a more individualized pricing approach. This can lead to more stable premiums if the employer’s claims experience is favorable.


In conclusion, deciding between level-funded and fully insured health plans ultimately depends on a business’s specific needs and risk tolerance. Fully insured plans offer stability and predictability, while level-funded plans provide flexibility and cost-saving potential.

Employers must carefully weigh these factors to determine the best option for their workforce. Regardless of which plan is chosen, providing comprehensive health coverage demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and can positively impact employee satisfaction and retention. NPA Benefits is always available to help businesses navigate these options and find the best fit for their unique needs. Contact us now.

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