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Health Insurance for Gym Owners: A Comprehensive Guide

A First for Fitness Operators – Health Insurance and other benefits Specifically Designed for Gym Owners


NEXO provides affordable health benefit options with access to quality healthcare plans. Our Plans fit broad range of needs and budgets, enabling team members to get the care they need, when and where they need it. For gym owners, giving health insurance to their employees is a really important choice. It shows they care about their team’s health and safety. In a place like a gym, where staying healthy is a big part of the job, having health insurance means employees can get better if they’re sick and not worry too much about the cost.

This makes the gym a nice place to work, helps keep good employees around, and makes everyone happier and more loyal to the gym. Plus, when employees feel secure and healthy, they do a better job, miss less work, and are happier overall. So, health insurance is super important for both the gym and the people who work there—it helps everyone feel and work better.

The world of health insurance for small businesses, like gyms, has been changing a lot. A few years ago, it was harder for small places to offer good health insurance because it was too expensive. But now, there are new laws and options that help make it easier and more affordable. 

For example, there are special marketplaces just for small businesses to find deals on insurance. Plus, some small businesses can get tax credits to help pay for their employees’ health insurance, making it less of a burden. All these changes mean that more small businesses can give their employees’ health insurance, which is great for keeping everyone healthy and happy at work.



Why Health Insurance Matters for Gym Owners

Offering health insurance is a big deal for small businesses like gyms when it comes to getting new employees to join and keeping the ones they already have. When a gym offers health insurance, it tells people that the gym cares about their health and well-being. This makes the gym a more attractive place to work, especially when many jobs don’t offer this benefit.

It’s like a bonus that can make employees want to stay longer because they feel valued and taken care of. Plus, employees are more likely to stick around if they know their health care is covered, which is great for the gym because it keeps a strong team together and saves the hassle of always trying to find new people to work.

For small businesses like gyms, offering health insurance can really help lower the risk of losing money because of employees missing work due to sickness. When employees have health insurance, they can go to the doctor and get better faster, which means they won’t need to take as many days off.

This is super important for a gym, where having healthy and active staff is key to keeping things running smoothly. Without health insurance, employees might wait too long to get medical help and end up being away from work for a long time, which can cost the gym money. So, by providing health insurance, gyms can keep their team healthy and at work, saving money and avoiding problems with being short-staffed.


Understanding Health Insurance Options

Types of Health Insurance Plans

Health Maintenance Organizations, or HMOs, are a type of health insurance plan that’s all about keeping you healthy and taking care of you when you’re sick, but with a few rules. If you have an HMO plan, you usually have to choose a primary care doctor, and this doctor is your main point of contact for all your health needs. If you need to see a specialist, like a heart doctor or a skin doctor, your primary care doctor has to say it’s okay first by giving you a referral.

One big thing about HMOs is that they want you to use doctors and hospitals that are part of their network. These are the places and doctors that have agreed to work with the HMO on prices, which can save you money. But, if you go to a doctor or hospital outside of this network, the HMO might not pay for it, which means you could end up paying the whole bill yourself.

HMOs are great for people who like having one doctor manage their care and who want to keep their medical costs low. But you have to be okay with following their rules, like always going to doctors in the network and getting referrals when you need to see a specialist.


Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) are a type of health insurance that gives you a lot of freedom to choose your healthcare providers. Unlike HMOs, with a PPO, you don’t need to pick a primary care doctor, and you don’t need referrals to see specialists. This means if you want to see a skin doctor or a heart doctor, you can just make an appointment without asking another doctor first.

PPOs have a network of doctors and hospitals that they work with, just like HMOs. If you go to these in-network providers, you usually pay less money for your care. But one of the cool things about PPOs is that you can also see doctors outside of this network. You’ll still get some coverage, but it might cost you more than seeing someone in-network.

People who choose PPOs like them because they have more control over who they see for healthcare. It’s great for those who want the flexibility to see different specialists or who might need healthcare while traveling. But, because PPOs offer more freedom, they often come with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs compared to HMOs.


Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO) are a type of health insurance plan that strikes a balance between HMOs and PPOs. With an EPO, you have the freedom to see any doctor or specialist within the plan’s network without needing a referral, similar to a PPO. This means you can go directly to a specialist if you need one, without having to see a primary care doctor first.

However, like HMOs, EPOs have a strict network of providers you must stick to if you want your services covered. If you choose to see a healthcare provider outside of your EPO’s network, you’ll likely have to pay the full cost of those services yourself, except in the case of an emergency.

EPOs are appealing for people who want the ease of direct access to specialists and who don’t mind limiting their care to providers within a specific network. These plans can offer a good mix of flexibility and cost control, but it’s important to check the network’s coverage area and make sure there are enough providers that meet your health care needs.


Point of Service (POS) plans are a type of health insurance that combines features from both HMOs and PPOs. With a POS plan, you typically need to choose a primary care doctor like you would with an HMO. This doctor takes care of your general health needs and refers you to specialists when necessary.

One of the unique things about POS plans is the flexibility they offer regarding where you can receive your healthcare. For services received inside the plan’s network, based on your primary care doctor’s referrals, you usually pay less out of pocket. However, POS plans also allow you to see doctors and specialists outside of the network without a referral, similar to a PPO. When you choose to go outside the network, you’ll have more freedom but will likely face higher costs and might need to file claims on your own.

POS plans are great for people who value having a primary care doctor coordinate their care but also want the option to see doctors outside the network without facing the full costs themselves. This plan offers a middle ground, providing both structure and flexibility, but it’s important to be aware of the potential for higher costs when stepping outside the network.


Self-Funded vs. Fully Insured Plans

Definitions and differences: In the realm of health insurance, businesses typically choose between self-funded and fully insured plans, each with its distinct approach to managing and paying for healthcare.

Fully Insured Plans are the traditional route for businesses. In this model, the company pays a fixed premium to an insurance provider. The insurer then takes on the responsibility of covering all healthcare claims based on the policy terms. This setup is straightforward and offers predictability for businesses, as the insurance company handles the risks and administration of health benefits. It’s a popular choice for smaller businesses that prefer a hands-off approach and fixed costs.

Self-Funded Plans, on the other hand, involve the company taking on the financial risk of covering healthcare claims themselves. Instead of paying fixed premiums to an insurer, the business sets aside a pool of money to directly pay for employees’ healthcare claims as they arise. This model can offer more flexibility and potential savings, as companies only pay for the actual healthcare costs incurred, plus any administrative fees for managing the plan. Larger companies or those with a stable, healthy workforce often choose this option, as they can potentially lower their overall healthcare spending while having more control over their benefits.

The main difference between the two comes down to who bears the financial risk and how much control and flexibility a company wants over its health benefits. Fully insured plans offer simplicity and fixed costs, transferring the risk to the insurer. Self-funded plans, while involving more risk management by the company, can provide significant savings and customization in healthcare benefits.

Pros and cons for gym owners: For gym owners considering self-funded versus fully insured health plans for their employees, understanding the pros and cons of each is crucial to making an informed decision that aligns with their business needs and financial capabilities.


Fully Insured Plans



Predictability: Fixed monthly premiums make budgeting easier.
Simplicity: The insurance company handles claims and benefits administration, reducing the administrative burden on the gym owner.
Risk Management: The insurance company assumes the risk, protecting the gym from unexpected high costs due to employee health claims.


Higher Costs: Premiums can be higher to cover the insurer’s overhead and profit margin.
Less Control: Gym owners have limited ability to customize plan options or negotiate costs.
Potential for Unused Premiums: If claims are lower than expected, the difference is not refunded, which could mean paying for unused services.


Self-Funded Plans



Cost Savings: Potential for lower overall costs since money not spent on claims remains with the gym.
Flexibility and Control: More options to customize health benefits to meet employee needs and manage costs directly.
Tax Benefits: Savings on state premium taxes and exemption from certain regulatory fees.


Financial Risk: The gym assumes the risk for paying claims, which can be unpredictable and potentially very high.
Administrative Responsibility: Managing a self-funded plan requires more effort, including claims processing and compliance management, unless outsourced to a third party.
Need for Reserve Funds: Requires upfront investment to create a reserve fund to pay claims, which can be a significant financial strain.

For gym owners, the choice between fully insured and self-funded plans depends on their willingness to manage financial risks, desire for control over benefits, and capacity to handle administrative tasks. Fully insured plans offer simplicity and risk transfer at a higher cost, while self-funded plans offer cost savings and flexibility with greater responsibility and risk.


Legal Requirements and Compliance

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Small Businesses

  • Coverage requirements based on business size. When it comes to providing health insurance, the requirements for businesses can vary significantly based on the size of the company. Understanding these requirements is crucial for gym owners to ensure they are in compliance with the law while managing their budget and meeting their employees’ needs.


Small Businesses (Under 50 Employees)


Key Points:

  • No Legal Requirement to Provide Health Insurance: Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees are not mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to offer health insurance.
  • Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP): Small businesses can purchase health insurance through the SHOP marketplace, which may qualify them for tax credits to help offset costs.
  • Flexibility: Small gym owners have the flexibility to choose whether or not to offer health insurance based on their financial capability and strategy for attracting and retaining employees.


Medium to Large Businesses (50 or More Employees)


Key Points:

  • Employer Mandate: Businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees are required by the ACA to provide health insurance to at least 95% of their full-time employees and their children up to age 26 or face a penalty.


  • Affordability and Minimum Value: The offered health insurance must be affordable for employees, meaning the employee’s share of the premiums for self-coverage does not exceed a certain percentage of their household income. The plan must also provide minimum value, covering at least 60% of the total allowed cost of benefits.


  • Reporting Requirements: There are additional reporting requirements to the IRS and employees about the coverage offered. For gym owners, understanding these distinctions is essential. Small gyms have more leeway and can use health insurance as a tool for competitive advantage without legal obligations.

In contrast, medium to large gyms must navigate more stringent regulations, ensuring their plans meet ACA standards to avoid penalties. Each gym owner must weigh the costs and benefits of providing health insurance within the context of their business size and objectives.

  • Penalties for non-compliance. For businesses subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), failing to comply with its requirements can lead to significant financial penalties. It’s crucial for gym owners, especially those with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, to understand these penalties to avoid unexpected costs and legal issues.


Employer Shared Responsibility Payment

For Not Offering Coverage: If a business with 50 or more full-time employees does not offer health insurance to at least 95% of its full-time workforce (and their dependents up to age 26), and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit to help afford coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the business may be subject to a penalty. This penalty is often referred to as the “employer mandate” penalty.

Calculation: The penalty is calculated monthly but reported annually. For 2020, the annual penalty amount was $2,570 per full-time employee, excluding the first 30 employees from the calculation.


For Not Offering Affordable Coverage

Affordability and Minimum Value: If the health insurance provided by the business either does not cover at least 60% of the total allowed costs of benefits (minimum value) or is not considered affordable to the employees, the business may face a different penalty if a full-time employee receives a premium tax credit for purchasing coverage through the Marketplace.

Calculation: For 2020, the penalty for each employee receiving a premium tax credit because the insurance was not affordable or did not provide minimum value was $3,860 per year, calculated on a monthly basis for each employee receiving a tax credit.


Importance of Compliance

For gym owners, these penalties underscore the importance of not only providing health insurance (for those with 50 or more employees) but also ensuring that the coverage meets ACA standards for affordability and minimum value. Non-compliance can lead to substantial financial penalties that could impact the financial health of the business. It’s advisable for gym owners to work closely with health insurance professionals to navigate these regulations and avoid penalties.


State-Specific Regulations

Overview of state variations in health insurance mandates. The landscape of health insurance mandates in the United States includes significant variation from state to state, adding another layer of complexity for gym owners as they navigate compliance with health insurance regulations. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets federal standards, individual states have the authority to enact additional requirements that can affect businesses operating within their borders.


State-Specific Mandates

Expansion of Coverage: Some states have expanded the coverage requirements beyond what the ACA mandates, such as extending dependent coverage beyond the age of 26 or requiring that certain health benefits be covered.

Employer Mandates: A few states have their own employer health insurance mandates, which may require businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide health insurance, unlike the federal ACA requirement, which applies only to larger employers.

Minimum Contribution Requirements: Certain states may also dictate a minimum employer contribution towards employee premiums, ensuring that health insurance remains affordable for employees.


Reporting and Compliance

Additional Reporting: Besides federal reporting requirements, some states require businesses to file additional reports or notices related to the health insurance they offer.

State Exchanges: States with their own health insurance exchanges may have unique rules and options for small businesses looking to purchase insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).


Navigating State Laws

For gym owners, understanding and complying with both federal and state health insurance regulations is crucial. The specific requirements can affect decisions about whether to offer health insurance, what kind of insurance to offer, and how to structure employee contributions.

Resources and Assistance: To navigate these state variations, gym owners can seek guidance from state insurance departments, legal advisors, or health insurance brokers who specialize in small business coverage. Additionally, many states offer resources or navigators to help small businesses understand their obligations under state law.

Being aware of and compliant with state-specific mandates not only ensures that gym owners avoid penalties but also positions them as responsible employers who are committed to their employees’ health and well-being.

Resources for state-specific information. For gym owners seeking to navigate the complexities of state-specific health insurance mandates, having access to reliable resources is crucial. These resources can provide detailed information on the requirements, options, and compliance strategies tailored to each state’s regulations.

Here’s a list of resources that can help gym owners find the information they need:


State Departments of Insurance

Each state has its own Department of Insurance (DOI) or equivalent regulatory agency. These departments offer guidance on insurance laws, including health insurance mandates for businesses.

Visit your state’s DOI website for regulatory updates, guidance documents, and contact information for further assistance.


State Health Insurance Exchanges

States with their own health insurance marketplaces provide resources for small businesses looking to understand their options under the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Access the exchange’s website or contact their support center for information on plans, eligibility, and enrollment.


Small Business Administration (SBA) Offices

The SBA offers resources and guidance on a range of issues affecting small businesses, including health insurance requirements.

Visit the SBA website or a local SBA office for workshops, guides, and tools related to health insurance and compliance.


Professional Associations and Chambers of Commerce

These organizations often provide members with updates on state-specific business regulations, including health insurance mandates.

Joining a local or industry-specific association can give you access to resources, networking opportunities, and expert advice on compliance.


Legal Advisors and Health Insurance Brokers

Professionals specializing in health insurance and small business law can offer personalized guidance based on your specific situation and state regulations.

Consult with a trusted advisor or broker for detailed advice and assistance in selecting plans and ensuring compliance.


Online Resources and Tools

Various websites and online platforms offer tools and information on state health insurance laws and small business requirements.

Utilize online comparison tools, forums, and government websites to stay informed about changes and requirements in your state.

By leveraging these resources, gym owners can gain a deeper understanding of the health insurance landscape within their state, ensuring they make informed decisions that comply with local regulations and support their employees’ health needs.


Choosing the Right Plan for Your Gym

Evaluating employee needs and business objectives.  When gym owners consider offering health insurance, evaluating the specific needs of their employees alongside the broader objectives of the business is a crucial step. This evaluation helps ensure that the chosen health insurance plan aligns with both employee welfare and the strategic goals of the gym. Here’s how gym owners can approach this process:


Understanding Employee Needs

Surveys and Feedback: Conduct anonymous surveys or hold focus groups with employees to understand their health insurance needs, preferences, and concerns. This can provide insight into what types of coverage are most valued by the staff, such as preventive care, family coverage, or specific types of treatments.

Demographic Analysis: Assess the demographic composition of your workforce. Younger employees might prioritize different benefits compared to older employees or those with families. Tailoring the health insurance offerings to match these demographics can increase the perceived value of the benefit.


Aligning with Business Objectives

Budget Consideration: Determine how much the business can afford to spend on health insurance. This involves analyzing the gym’s financials to set a realistic budget that supports offering competitive benefits without compromising the gym’s financial health.

Competitive Advantage: Consider how offering health insurance can serve as a tool for attracting and retaining top talent, especially in competitive markets. Health benefits can be a key differentiator for potential employees choosing between your gym and another employer.

Compliance and Risk Management: Ensure that any health insurance plan complies with local and federal regulations. This minimizes legal risks and can protect the gym from potential fines and penalties associated with non-compliance.


Strategic Decision Making

Long-Term Planning: Think about how the health insurance plan fits into the long-term vision for the gym. For instance, if expanding the team is a goal, choose a scalable plan that can easily accommodate more employees.

Feedback Loop: Establish a mechanism for ongoing feedback about the health insurance plan from employees. This ensures the plan remains relevant and valued and allows for adjustments as both employee needs and business objectives evolve.

By carefully evaluating employee needs and aligning them with the gym’s business objectives, owners can select a health insurance plan that not only satisfies their team but also contributes to the business’s growth and success. This strategic approach fosters a supportive workplace culture, enhances employee satisfaction, and positions the gym as a desirable place to work.

Importance of network size and coverage area. For gym owners selecting a health insurance plan for their employees, the size of the provider network and the coverage area are critical factors to consider. These elements can significantly impact the accessibility and convenience of medical services for employees, influencing their overall satisfaction with the health insurance benefit. Here’s why the network size and coverage area are so important:


Network Size

Access to Care: A larger network means more doctors, specialists, and healthcare facilities are available under the plan. This variety gives employees more options to find the right healthcare providers that meet their needs and preferences.

Specialized Services: With a bigger network, there’s a higher likelihood of including specialists and high-quality care facilities. This is especially important for employees with specific medical conditions who need specialized treatment.

Convenience: A comprehensive network ensures that employees can find in-network providers close to where they live or work, reducing travel time and inconvenience.


Coverage Area

Geographical Flexibility: A health plan with a broad coverage area is beneficial for employees who live in different parts of a city or for businesses with multiple locations. It ensures that employees can access care wherever they are, without worrying about going out of network.

Travel and Work: For employees who travel frequently, either for work or leisure, a health plan with a wide coverage area means they can receive care across a larger geographical range without facing high out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network services.

Family Members: Employees may also need coverage that extends to family members living in other areas. A plan with a wide coverage area can accommodate the healthcare needs of spouses or dependents who reside outside the immediate local area.


Making the Right Choice

When choosing a health insurance plan, gym owners should assess their workforce and consider factors like where employees live, their travel habits, and the healthcare needs of their families. Offering a health insurance plan with an extensive provider network and wide coverage area can enhance the appeal of the benefit package, making the gym a more attractive place to work. It demonstrates the gym owner’s commitment to the well-being of their employees by ensuring they have easy access to quality healthcare, wherever they are.


Managing Health Insurance Costs

Benefits of the Tax Credit


  • Cost Savings: The credit can cover up to 50% of the employer’s contribution towards employees’ health insurance premiums, providing substantial cost savings.
  • Improved Benefits Package: These savings can help small businesses like gyms enhance their benefits package, making them more competitive in attracting and retaining employees.
  • Flexibility: The credit is available for two consecutive taxable years, giving businesses time to adjust and plan their health insurance offerings.

Understanding and taking advantage of small business health care tax credits can make providing health insurance more feasible for gym owners, contributing to a healthier, more satisfied workforce. It’s advisable to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to navigate the eligibility details and application process effectively.


Budgeting for Health Insurance

For gym owners offering health insurance to their employees, understanding the financial aspects of insurance plans—such as premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs—is essential. These terms represent different ways that health care costs are split between the insurance company and the insured individuals. Here’s a straightforward breakdown:



Definition: Premiums are the monthly, quarterly, or annual payments made to keep the health insurance policy active. Think of it like a subscription fee for insurance coverage.

Impact on Business: For gym owners, the cost of premiums is a major consideration when choosing a plan to offer employees. Lower premiums might mean higher costs elsewhere in the plan, such as deductibles or copays.



Definition: A deductible is the amount the insured must pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts to pay its share of the costs. For example, if a plan has a $1,000 deductible, the insured pays for the first $1,000 of covered services themselves.

Choosing Plans: Plans with higher deductibles usually have lower monthly premiums. Gym owners need to balance the attractiveness of lower premiums against the potential burden of high deductibles on their employees.


Out-of-Pocket Costs

Definition: Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance that the insured pays directly for health care services, aside from premiums. There’s often an out-of-pocket maximum, after which the insurance covers 100% of covered services.

Employee Consideration: Gym owners should consider how these costs will affect their employees, especially if they choose high-deductible plans that could lead to significant out-of-pocket expenses.


Making Informed Decisions


When selecting a health insurance plan, gym owners must weigh these financial components carefully. The goal is to offer a plan that provides valuable coverage to employees while managing the business’s budget effectively. Understanding these terms helps in comparing plans and making an informed choice that aligns with both employee needs and business objectives. It’s also important to clearly communicate these aspects to employees, so they understand their benefits and how to use them wisely.

NEXO stands as a steadfast partner for gym owners navigating the complexities of health insurance needs. Our mission extends beyond merely offering solutions; it’s about equipping your business with the knowledge, tools, and support necessary to make informed health insurance decisions. By prioritizing affordable, customizable, and comprehensive health plans, we ensure that your gym is not only compliant with legal requirements but also provides substantial value to your employees. 

Choosing NEXO for your health insurance needs means investing in a healthier, more secure future for your team and reinforcing your commitment to their well-being. Let us guide you through the intricacies of health insurance, so you can concentrate on fostering a thriving, health-focused community at your gym. Together, we’ll ensure that your business remains strong, supported, and successful in all its endeavors. Contact Us Today!  310-937-2007

No Individual medical underwriting

No Personal Health Questions

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Exclusive Enrollment Exceptions For 2+ Employees

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What's Included?

  • Convenient 24/7 access to qualified medical professionals via web, phone, or app.
  • Affordable prescriptions without pricey deductibles or copays.
  • A menu of benefit options include multiple tiers to ensure a plan for every budget.

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