If your business counts on the Illinois Exchange for health insurance, Aetna’s recent withdraw is unnerving. Aetna’s announcement comes shortly after UnitedHealthcare’s departure and the announcement that Land of Lincoln will no longer be offering plans. The events leading up to each departure is vastly different, but it leaves policyholders in the same situation: scrambling to evaluate and select an alternate health plan. This rapid contraction of the marketplace leaves business owners wondering if the exchange will survive. Let’s look a little deeper at what this could mean for small businesses relying on the exchange.
Decreased control of costs
With these departures, there are only two health plan providers still selling plans to small businesses and six providers selling to individuals. Reduced competition typically leads to increased prices. Based on early analysis, premiums could rise by up to 40% in Illinois in 2017. Rates haven’t been announced yet. Once open enrollment begins in November, we’ll be able to tell how the new rates will impact small business for January 1, 2017.
With recent insurers departing, many policyholders are left to find comparable coverage from fewer health plans. New plans may not cover their current doctors, prescriptions or procedures. Many doctors don’t participate in the narrow exchange networks. This disrupts continuity of care, which can have a negative impact on health outcomes. Also, given the enrollment timeframe, policyholders are usually researching their options on company time.
Financial instability of exchange
Insurers are in the business of making money. If they were profitable, they would stay in the exchange. The complicated regulations, delayed risk adjustment payments to insurers and higher than expected costs have motivated many to pull out. Will this trend continue further narrowing options?
Many small companies want more control in selecting a health plan that reflects the needs of their employees. Researching and administering health benefits can be time consuming and complicated. MidwestHR is a top Illinois PEO (professional employee organization) that specializes in employee benefits management. MidwestHR is unique because companies can choose from a wide range of health plans from leading providers at competitive rates. Even a big carrier like BCBS on the exchange, doesn’t provide exchange participants the same access to doctors like a group plan. MidwestHR will review multiple group plan bids to find the right fit. No long-term contracts are required. This flexibility is not available with other PEOs. Give us a call 630-836-3000 if you’d like to learn more.