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In the wake of Empire Blue Cross’s recent major SMB changes the 2 new Crains article below point to the early shake up results.

Tough Decisions on Health Coverage

Insurance Good Luck

Empire’s  Small Group “simplification”  did indeed  cause groups to escape Empire’s rate increases and reduced plan selections.  Additional, not mentioned in the article was that groups are facing plan modifications such as Rx changes switch to % from fixed $ copay and loss of Walgreen/Duane Reades chains.  By being the largest insurer on the block heavy provider negotiations have been de rigieur as evidenced by loss of Westchester Medical Center for 14 months and counting.

Groups have been fortunate to find comparable alternatives despite these changes but we see little public evidence of concern form NYS legislature.  We are not seeing the long term vision to open up markets to strong national insurance competitors.  On the contrary we have deep concerns of allowing  the past 2 non-profits of GHI and HIP merger and latest talks of going for profit.

Lastly, the article makes mention of possible “Health Exchanges” entering the market and lowering rates.   Where is there  evidence  of this decrease?  I’m not seeing why an insurer working in an oligopoly environment with price controls would be motivated to lower rates.  Would Con Ed or Blue Bell lower rates in the 70s because now SMB can shop online??

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