It would be wishful to say that group health insurance under the ACA has stabilized. Comparing it to the Individual market under the ACA, the group is calm.
For companies with less than 50 full time employees, or the equivalent under 50, fully insured products are guaranteed issue. This mean there is no underwriting. When employees complete applications, they are not asked any questions about current/past health conditions. The cost of the plan is based on county, age of the employees & plan designs. This can be an advantage for companies that have younger employees. The younger employees can reduce the rates through composite rates. This can have a huge impact, if a company and the employees can afford the health plan. We have been able to get the employee rate down as low as $239.
The county where the company is located act will impact rates. Under the ACA, this is perfectly acceptable to increase or decrease rates based on the county. If a county has had a history of higher risks/claims, then the group health plan can and will cost more.
Plan design has the largest impact on group premiums. The two main carriers in Indiana are UnitedHealthCare (UHC) and Anthem. They are really the only carriers that are in the small group fully insured market.
Anthem small group plans designs, really have not changed much under the ACA. The plans are somewhat straight forward. The deductibles & office visit copays have stayed the same. Anthem has slowly started to change their prescription drug co pays. The one aspect that has changed is the out of pocket max. These have increased under the ACA. As it stands Anthem is not competitively priced in the small group product. This is by choice.
UHC surprisingly, has been very creative on developing new products that reduce premiums. They have changed plan designs, networks and even added gate keeper plans, with the goal of controlling cost. They have established that a split co pay is now acceptable to most insure. This is where you have a lower co pay for general doctors, then a much higher co pay for specialists. This is to create consumerism. A specialist may cost $330 for a visit and general doctor may cost $90. So UHC would rather pay for the general office visit. The next change they have made is co-insurance. They have created some plans with 50% co-insurance after the deductible has been met. The insured will hit the out of pocket max much faster. Another surprising move from UHC was the establishment of the EPO network. This type of network is a hybrid of a PPO & HMO. It has national provider access but no coverage out of network. Gate Keeper policies, where the insured must choose a doctor for all of their care. That doctor must be involved with all care provided or it will not be covered. UHC also has changed their RX co pays significantly. It appears that they are running a three tier co pay system, the reality is they are running a six. They have increased cost to the insured, on drugs that cost more. All of these cost cutting measures add up for both UHC and small groups. These have led to lower premiums under the ACA but they have shifted more cost onto the insured.
The small group plans have stabilized with UHC. Anthem has not pulled the trigger on the new plans under the ACA. Anthem could come out with a new product line up that is very different than what they are offering small group now.
There is one segment of Indiana small group that is very unstable and that is grandmothered policies. These are policies that were sold prior to the ACA going active. The Federal government and the State of Indiana have agreed to allow these plans to be in place until Dec.31st of 2017. The health insurance companies and many so called experts, do not know what will happen when these plans are no longer terminated. Will these small Indiana companies accept a 44% rate increase under a ACA plan? The answer is NO, they will not. These business owners will look for alternative solutions. They will contact a broker like myself, Nefouse & Associates, INC, and we will provide that solutions to lessen the blow of the ACA.