Group health insurance costs continue to rise despite the new healthcare reform law, but have started to moderate “after the initial shock and uncertainty,” according to the latest employee benefits market survey by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.
Council members remained apprehensive about the impact of health care reform, although the November survey indicated some moderation in the intensity of concern, the survey found.
The survey said that 18 months after passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), group medical benefits costs rose once again. The latest survey was conducted this month.
The survey found that the greatest benefit from the new law were the largest accounts, of groups with more than 500 employees.
Smaller accounts were faced with the largest rate hikes, the survey found. Some medium-sized groups did have rate decreases, although most had rate increases, the Council survey said.
At the same time, the market has begun to adjust to initial new requirements in health care reform, but some uncertainty may persist as additional aspects are phased in over the next several years, said CIAB president and CEO Ken Crerar.
Comments from brokers on group medical plan pricing presented a nuanced picture consistent with adjustments underway to PPACA.
“As a whole, recent renewals have been lower than any other time I can remember,” one broker told Council officials.
“The trend is lower, renewals more reasonable,” commented another. “We have seen more competitive new business rates coupled with lower renewals,” a third broker added.
Crerar said that other brokers saw prices rise due to the impact of PPACA, but noted that increases were tempered by continued interest in and movement toward consumer-driven health plans and wellness plans.
These plans typically have higher deductibles. “Interest in high deductible (plans) is taking off,” said one broker.