Bucking past trends, some small group health carriers in NY are LOWERING rates in 2019. After a recent release of approved rates for the new year, there are three carriers that will have some plans with slightly lower premiums compared to current 4Q rates from 2018: Empire BCBS, Oscar, and Oxford. Even for plans that are increasing premiums, they are some of the smallest increases that we have seen in many years.
Plans that are going lower in price are doing so mainly for actuarial reasons. As an example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) set metal tiers for plans to conform with. Plans must maintain benefits that fit into certain actuarial values (metal tiers) that compare premiums to benefits so it is easier to compare plans of similar metal tiers. As each year goes by, the plan benefits and rates are re-evaluated and adjustments made to rates/benefits to keep them in their chosen metal tiers. So for example, while a plan might have a DECREASE in premium in 2019, some of the underlying benefits might be changing such as higher doctor or hospital co-pays, or higher out of pocket limits, all for the purpose of keeping the plan compliant with the ACA.
Other carriers have seen changes in their network makeup (addition of hospitals or out of area coverage, or loss of large hospital system) which affects what the carrier must charge to add or remove certain providers.
All in all, rate increases for 2019 have been some of the lowest I have seen in my 28 years in the business. With strong competition and multiple carrier and network options, NY businesses should benefit from stable health insurance premiums throughout 2019. This is good news for small business and I am hopeful that these trends continue well past 2019. Now is a good time to shop with us to see if there might be some lower priced carriers or networks to help you lower your group health insurance costs.
Peak Advisors, Inc. is a group health insurance brokerage located on Long Island, NY. We specialize in groups with 1-50 employees throughout the tri-state area. In addition, we write a full array of Business, Personal, and Senior Insurance products.