NYS has approved 2018 Final Rates last week. Small group rates will increase 9.3% while the individual rate average increase will be 13.9%.
As per NY State Law carriers are required to send out early notices of rate request filings to groups and subscribers see original –NYS 2018 Rate Requests. With only 3 months of mature claims, experience for 2017 health insurers’ requests are historically above average. Ultimately the State reduces this request substantially. This year, however, NYS acknowledged that medical costs increased, citing a 7-percent average increase on the individual market and an 8.5-percent increase on the small group market. The administration also acknowledged drug prices have impacted insurers, pointing specifically to blockbuster drugs for Hepatitis C.
The national rate trend, however, has been much higher than in past years due to higher health care costs Like other states throughout the nation, the 2017 rate of increase for individuals in New York is higher than in past years partly due to the termination of the federal reinsurance program. The loss of the program’s a.k.a. federal risk reinsurance corridor funds account for 5.5 percent of the rate increase.
How are neighboring States doing? In NJ, not that bad. According to a review of filings made public last week the expected rate increase will likely be half. Example: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield requested a 4.8% increase on their OMINA Plans. For CT market, on the other hand, things are much worse at least for the individual marketplace with average 25% rate increases.
While the individual mandate is still the law, Washington has made it clear that they aren’t going to enforce the mandate. That means fewer people will buy health insurance raising the prices for those who do.
A bipartisan group of congressional representatives has discussed an agreement to extend and guarantee the payments, but it’s unclear whether they could do so by the new filing deadline of Sept. 5. A lawsuit filed by Congress against the Obama administration to challenge the payments is still pending. In addition, Trump has repeatedly threatened to withhold payments to insurers that reduce cost-sharing – deductibles, copays and coinsurance – paid by low-income customers. More than half of New Jersey’s marketplace customers receive that assistance, and without it, most would be unable to afford coverage.
Finally, a tax on health insurance premiums is due to be reinstated in 2018 after a one-year “tax holiday” approved by Congress for 2017. That contributed 2.3 percent to the rate hikes that insurers requested last year.
SMALL GROUP MARKET VS. INDIVIDUAL MARKET
The new premium hikes ranged from as little as .8% percent for Hudson Valley’s Crystal Run Health Insurance Company to a whopping 20.4% percent increase for Albany region’s CDHP. Importantly, small group market is still more advantageous than individual markets unless one gets a sizable low-income tax credit.
Overall, about 350,000 individual plan consumers will be affected by the price hike, while more than a million users will be hit by higher small group fees. Last year, Blue Cross Blue Shield released a study showing Obamacare user costs were 22 percent higher than people with employer-sponsored health plans, while UnitedHealth plans to exit most Exchanges see – Breaking: Oxford Exits Metro Indiv & Oxford Liberty HMO 2017.
The correct approach for a small business in keeping with simplicity is a Private Exchange and with our large buying group PEO partnerships. This is a true defined contribution empowering employees with a choice of leading insurers offering paperless technologies integrating HRIS/Benefits/Payroll. Both employee and employers still gain tax advantage benefits under the business. Also, the benefits, rates and network size are superior under a group plan as the risk are lower for small group plans than individual markets.
* All amounts are rounded to the nearest 1/10.
**Indicates that the company makes products available on the “New York State of Health” marketplace.