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The NYS 2020 Rate Requests filings were released today. The total weighted average increases were a modest 8.4% for Individual Market and 12.0% Small Group Market. Final rate approval expected early August. The past reductions averaged 10-50%.
The lower requests reflect a stabilizing ACA market. Insurers’ financial performance improved nationwide last year to its highest level since the passage of the law. The average medical-loss ratio, which represents the portion of premiums spent on medical claims and quality improvement, was 70% last year in the individual market nationwide. That led to plans paying $800 million in rebates for failing to meet requirements on medical spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
This early filing request deadline request requirement is not an Obamacare requirement. As per NY State Law carriers are required to send out notices of rate increase filings to groups and subscribers.These are simply requests and the state’s Department of Financial Services has authority to modify the final rates. But they are the first indication of what New Yorkers can expect when shopping for health insurance on the individual marketplace at the end of this year.
By contrast last year’s NYS 2019 Rate Request early filing request were higher at 7.5% small group and an astounding 24% for individuals. The NYS final August 2020 rate approval are expected to be lower. For example, the final filing rates were approved NYS 2019 Final Rates Approved at a modest 3.8% small group and 8.6% for individuals. Using these past figures one projects a 2019 Final Rates of 5% small groups and 8% individuals.
A spokeswoman for the state Health Plan Association said insurers have worked to control costs, which have been driven up by rising prescription drug prices and state mandates that require coverage of certain services.
“Our member health plans have been committed to making health care more affordable, working hard to rein in rising health care costs and contain their own costs,” she said. “The proposed premium rate requests are reasonable, reflecting the cost of care.”
In the small-group market, insurers asked for a weighted average 12% boost in 2020 after they were granted a 3.8% bump for this year. UnitedHealthcare’s Oxford, which controls more than half of the small-group market, asked for a 15.9% increase, which was the highest among all plans. Oscar, at 15.8%, was close behind. Notably, Healthfirst has requested a 5% reduction.
Defined Contribution Choice: Instead, the correct approach for a small business in keeping with simplicity is a defined contribution model using a Private Exchange. This is a true defined contribution empowering employees with the 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 OUTLINED ABOVE ARE HIGHER FOR INDIVIDUAL MARKETS THAN SMALL GROUP PLANS.
To be clear: These trends affect a small subset of the insurance market—non-group plans that cover less than 2 percent of the population. Many qualify for tax credits that lower their net costs and reduce or eliminate the impact of year-to-year rate increases.However, non-group customers with incomes above 400% of the poverty level ($48,560 for a single adult) get no subsidy—and feel the full brunt of any hikes.
*These averages may change based on DFS’s review of the rate applications.** Empire submitted a filing that DFS is evaluating.
A new law entitled the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act” was signed by Governor Phil Murphy on May 30, 2018 to reestablish the recently repealed “shared responsibility tax”. The law, which will take effect on January 1, 2019, will require every New Jersey resident to obtain health insurance with minimum essential coverage or pay a fee, essentially adopting the rules of the ACA.
This legislation will directly impact residents of NJ and indirectly affect employers with employees residing in the state.
The New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act will require all New Jersey residents to have Minimum EssentialCoverage (MEC) beginning January 1, 2019, or pay a penalty.
In light of Federal repeal on Dec 29, 2017, Tax Reform Bill Includes Repeal of Individual Mandate Beginning in 2019, NJ’s mandate is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019, making NJ the second state, after Massachusetts, to enactan individual mandate. The mandate includes an annual penalty of 2.5% of a household’s income or $695 per adultand $347 per child – whichever is higher. The maximum penalty is based on household income and will not exceed theaverage yearly premium of a bronze plan.If it’s based on a per-person charge, the maximum household penalty will be $2,085.
A “hardship exemption” will be available for individuals who cannot afford coverage, determined by the State Treasurer. NJ expects to collect between $90 million and $100 million in penalties. This money, along with additional federal funding, willbe used on a reinsurance program, which Murphy also signed into law.
While these bills do not directly affect employer sponsored plans, the individual mandate requirement for NJ residents will likely require education for employees. As residents in NJ will now be required to obtain health overage to avoid a state income tax penalty, employers may see an increase in plan enrollment. Unlike Massachusetts which requires specific coverage components, the NJ law only requires that coverage be MEC. Thus, most traditional employer-sponsored group health plans should meet this definition. However, coverage for only dental benefits, certain medical indemnity policies and vision benefits are likely not sufficient for purposes of avoiding the state tax. For now, employers with employees who reside in New Jersey may wish to educate employees at Open Enrollment that by January 1, 2019 health coverage will be required for NJ residents to avoid a penalty.
New Jersey lawmakers feared the repeal would drive healthier people out of the marketplace causing premiums to spike. They believe this law is pertinent to stabilize the marketplace, keep people insured, and prevent a death spiral of the individual market.
On Dec. 20, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which makes significant changes to individual and corporate provisions of the U.S. tax code, including a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21%, down from 35%, beginning in 2018. The bill includes permanent effective repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate, requiring individuals to purchase and maintain health coverage, by zeroing out the penalty beginning in 2019. For 2018, most individuals are still required to maintain coverage or pay a penalty when they file their 2018 federal income tax return.
The bill was negotiated by a conference committee comprised of representatives from both the Senate and House after each chamber passed their own versions of tax reform. The final bill was passed 51-48 by the Senate and 224-201 by the House before being sent to the President. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
The bill also changes how certain tax thresholds will be indexed for inflation. Affected provisions, including the ACA “Cadillac” Tax (scheduled to take effect in 2020), will now be indexed to the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of the regular CPI (the previous metric). That change makes it likely that more employer-sponsored plans would trigger the Cadillac tax sooner.
We will keep our clients advised of timely developments of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as it relates to employee beneifts. For now, though, it appears that the biggest impactsthe next couple years are likely to be with respect to the individual mandate repeal and the Cadillac Tax changes.
HHS released final 2018 Notice of Benefit. Contact us today at (855) 667-4621 or [email protected].
MIAMI and NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Despite efforts from the federal government to reform the Affordable Care Act, the 2018 health insurance Open Enrollment Period – the time when Americans can change Obamacare health insurance plans or a join a new plan for the upcoming year – will still begin on November 1, 2017. But this has left most Americans confused about how this year’s open enrollment differs from the previous three.
Unlike previous Open Enrollment Periods, which each occurred over a 90-day window, this year’s open enrollment will last just 45 days – starting on November 1 and lasting until December 15. The shortened timeframe means Americans will have less time to make decisions about their healthcare. While some U.S. states have extended the enrollment periodfor their individual state exchanges (notably, California and New York), most states will follow the condensed 45-day enrollment window.
There are several major changes to the open enrollment process in addition to the condensed 45-day enrollment window. It’s likely that many consumers will be caught off-guard, as these changes to open enrollment have not been well publicized. HealthCare.com cofounder and CEO, Howard Yeh, explains how these open enrollment changes may affect consumers and the coverage options available to them.
“In previous enrollment periods, people were provided with several government notices to compare their current plan with other healthcare plans on the Marketplace. This year, it’s unclear whether consumers will be provided those notices. That’s why it’s important to shop around for a different health insurance plan during open enrollment. If consumers don’t compare their plan options, they run the risk of being re-enrolled in the same plan. This is the case even after the enrollment period has already passed. If their current plan’s monthly premium is set to increase, they may get stuck with a plan that doesn’t fit their needs, or is otherwise unaffordable.”
“The Trump administration has decided to stop financing cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies to insurance companies. Most insurers predicted this in fact. The prices for Silver plans (the only plans for which these cost-sharing reductions were made available). This means higher insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for some. This also means, though, that people in some areas of the country may encounter Gold and Platinum plans that cost just as much or even less than Silver plans.”
“Several insurers have filled in the gaps left by the exit of major insurance companies like Aetna and Anthem from the Marketplace. While this ensures that consumers across the country have healthcare options available to them. In reality, the options are significantly slimmer than those in previous years. In many areas of the country, only one ACA health plan option will be available to consumers. Most plans are costlier that may be prohibitive for many.”
“Costs for ACA plans overall will be higher compared to previous years – with insurers charging, on average, 20% more on premiums. These costs have outpaced income growth. Leading to a unique affordability gap – where people make too much to qualify for Obamacare tax credits, but make too little to actually afford a Bronze plan. Under the law, those unable to afford a Bronze plan are exempt from paying the penalty for not having health insurance, “Marketplace affordability exemption”). This year, we expect more than 1.5 million people to qualify for that exemption – a significant increase from the 600,000 two years ago.”
“The federal government has also slashed funding for different initiatives intended to encourage and support people enrolling in Marketplace coverage. Notably, there will be less help available from ‘navigators’ and government spending on Obamacare outreach and advertising is now virtually nonexistent. This means it’s up to consumers to actively seek out help when signing up – and it’s up to nonprofit organizations and private companies to step up and make sure consumers get the information they need.”
“Motivated by increasing costs and limited options, more consumers are moving towards alternatives to ACA health insurance. Relatively unknown healthcare options, like association plans and faith-based healthcare, are becoming more popular. And people may start using short-term health insurance plans – which typically serve as temporary coverage solutions. They may reult in full-time replacements to traditional coverage, especially due to the President’s executive order. The short term plans may now last up to a year (compared to the previous limit of three months).”
Approximately 20 million people will shop for health insurance during this Open Enrollment Period. HealthCare.gov a top destination for consumers looking to shop around for the best-priced plan on Marketplace health insuranc. Additonaly, alternatives to ACA coverage (like short-term health insurance plans) are included.
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.
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.