Given how surprising 2020 has been, the heath insurance pricing specialists are not eager to declare that they’re sure what prices will be like in 2021.
But, at this point, the actuaries and other pricing analysts say, it looks as if the 2021 price increases for major medical insurance coverage could end up being similar to the 2020 increases, in spite of COVID-19.
Gregg Fann and Dave Dillon, fellows of the Society of Actuaries (SOA), made their predictions, for all commercial health coverage, in a written commentary circulated by the SOA.
Alex Kreibich, a consulting actuary at Gallagher’s healthcare analytics unit, peered into the future in a video posted on Gallagher’s website. Kreibich focused on what might happen to the cost of the health benefits provided by large employers with self-insured health plans.
Treating many severe cases of COVID-19 could be expensive, but, the more severe the effect of the pandemic are, the less care plan members are likely to get for conditions other than COVID-19, according Kreibich.
Kreibich emphasizes in the Gallagher video that what might really happen with COVID-19 is hard to predict.
If about 5% of people in the United States get a noticeable COVID-19 infection, as many forecasts suggest, then testing and treatment costs might amount to more than 4.8% of current health care spending, Kreibich estimates.
But COVID-19 could also reduce use of non-COVID-19-related care enough to cut spending by an amount equal to about 5.4% of current spending, Kreibich predicts.
In that case, Kreibich says, the net result would be a 0.6% reduction in health care spending, according to Kreibich’s analysis.
COVID-19 could, on the other hand, lead to increased telehealth and behavioral care use, higher COBRA benefits continuation takeup rates, and, possibly, different or more expensive stop-loss contracts, Kreibich says.
“Things have been changing rapidly,” Kreibich says. “Things will continue to change over the coming weeks and months.”