Results of a new survey by consulting firm Mercer say no. According to survey reponses, only 6% of employers with more than 500 workers, and just 3% of very large employers with 10,000 or more workers, say they are likely to terminate their health plans and send employees to the state insurance exchanges to seek individual insurance plans.

Click on the link above for more information about how small employers will react, and what all employers expect the cost impact of healthcare reform to be. The full survey will be released later this month.

This just out in the New York Times: the Obama administration expects Medicare Advantage premiums to drop slightly in 2011. With new power to negotiate with insurers and reject bids granted by the PPACA, “[CMS] negotiated more aggressively than in the past,” according Jonathan D. Blum, deputy administrator of the Medicare agency. According to the Times report:

“Medicare officials negotiated changes with most of the 300 plans. ‘As a result of these negotiations, Mr. Blum said, ‘plans improved their benefits by $13 per member per month, or 5 percent, on average. The average reduction of about $155 per member per year for the 966,000 beneficiaries resulted in estimated total savings of $150 million for beneficiaries in 2011.’

Good news for individuals and for employers who offer group Medicare Advantage plans to their retirees….

Aon Consulting has just published its predictions for medical plan cost increases in 2011.  Based on a survey of more than 60 health insurance carriers, Aon projects that in 2011 health care costs will increase by:

  • 10.5 percent for HMOs
  • 10.6 percent for POS plans
  • 10.7 percent for PPOs
  • 11 percent for CDH plans 

For Medicare-eligible retirees over the age of 65, Aon projects rates to grow by 7.5 percent for Medicare Supplement plans and 6.7 percent for Medicare Advantage plans.

This entry is the first of several written by Avalere Health for the Extend Health client base. We will post them here over the coming weeks.

Grandfathered Health Plans and Reform:  What You Need To Know About Benefit Plan Changes Under the Affordable Care Act

 By Carly Kelly and Kelly Brantley
Avalere Health

The Affordable Care Act has created sweeping changes across healthcare.  Many of the changes impact the fundamentals of health insurance, and affect anyone that manages the creation and administration of employee benefits. 

As you may know, certain “grandfathered” health plans are exempt from some of the new requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released interim regulations to clarify how a health plan can qualify for—or lose— grandfathered status. 

In the preamble to the interim regulations, HHS encourages States not to apply the ACA requirements to retiree-only plans.  Even with this clarification,  the grandfathered health plan regulations are likely to raise questions from employer groups that offer both retiree and non-retiree coverage. Read the rest of this entry »

The CDC just came out with a new estimate of uninsured Americans,
and the number is still growing. Based on the 2009 survey, the CDC
estimates that 46.3 million people – just over 15 percent of the
population – lacked health insurance last year. That’s up from 43.8
million in 2008. Nearly 60 million had been uninsured during some
part of the year, and nearly 33 million had been uninsured for more
than a year at the time of their interview. Kaiser Health News and
NPR provide a good summary of the findings.  Complete information
can be found in the Health Insurance and Expenditures chapter of
the CDC report entitled Health, United States, 2009, which is the source
of the graph to the right on this post.

Group insurance is better, right?

Isn’t it always cheaper than buying an individual plan?

The answer is no, not always. Not in the Medicare world. Read the rest of this entry »