Is EmblemHealth (GHI formerly) leaving the small business market? Yes and no. The popular traditional EPO is slated to be chopped up for new business May 1 pending State approval. The remaining consumer driven health plans which have deductibles and coinsurance (a %) will stay in tact. With that Broker compensation commissions will be significantly cut as well. The family popular 2-tier rating is also phased out and new groups must submit everything clean within 30 days.
Our quote in todays Crains Health Pulse Crains EmblemHealth pulls small business plans Feb 2013 | Crain’s New York Business reflects our deep concerns on market consolidations. “The unintended consequences of legislative changes has created a de facto single-payer system where Oxford is empowered to dictate to the New York market,” said Alex Miller, founder of Millennium Medical Solutions Corp. in Armonk, N.Y. To be fair Emblem has been steadily streamlining plans with in network only plan offerings and lowest HSA (Health Savings Account) family deductible starting out at $11,600. They are not the first insurer to do this as Empire Blue Cross issued a broader exit back in Nov 2011.
A healthy health insurance marketplace depends on competition as we all agree. From approximately 12 insurers 15 years ago we are today down to 2 active insurers Aetna and Oxford with Oxford claiming approx 2/3 of the small business marketplace. In NYS the MLR (Minimum Loss Ratios) are higher than any other state with additional state taxes. See NYS Surcharge on Health Insurance. The tight State Regulators allowing for razor thin margins while requiring insurers to maintain high reserves makes a burden many insurers are not excited. This resembles more of a utility company environment except ConEd realizes a 10% operating profit and do not have to have insurance reserves to prove solvency. Is there any surprise why there is no rush by outside insurers to compete here?
While on topic of ConEd we all know how customer care was in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. When was the last time an independent veteran consultant (not an ESCO) worked with you on your utility bill, servicing, negotiating, educating, and maximizing savings? Sure you can use a different supplier or ESCO but its still the local singular utility company that you are using. In comparison, same is happening in the health insurance field and the consequential exit of Health Insurance Brokers. Sadly, this is precisely the time when their training is most in demand and the most in need will be least likely to afford them.
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