Thursday, October 25, 2012

Times Are A-Changin’. But Will Employers Really Dump Health Insurance Coverage?

Today's guest post comes from bswift.  They will be at the 2nd Annual Health Insurance Exchange Congress this November 13-14, 2012.  If you'd like to join them, register today and mention code P1710BLOG and save 15% off the standard rate!

Speculation about employers dropping group coverage in 2014 has sparked debate about what pressures will drive evolution of the health insurance market. Most American workers expect funding and access to a health plan through employment. The notion of employers dropping group coverage without simultaneously providing funding and access to individual coverage is naïve. Labor demands won’t allow it. That’s not to say that certain employers won’t drop group coverage, but those that do will certainly be pressured to take the money formerly spent on group health insurance and give it to employees in some form. However, employers are unlikely to drop group coverage unless all employees have fair and equal access to individual coverage.

Availability of coverage is not enough – price matters. So how will individual product prices compare with small group or large group plans? Massachusetts commissioned a 2006 study of their marketplace in which they compared individual product prices to small group product prices at a time where both markets were guaranteed issue (GI), but before the Commonwealth merged the two markets. The study revealed that GI individual products were priced about 15% higher than small group products, comparing apples to apples. Some states are certain to keep the individual market pooled separately from small group, and as a result, individual products will be more costly than comparable group plans in those states. For large employers, their self-insured rates will likely trump both individual and small group rates.

For the foreseeable future, large groups will hold together as group health plans mainly based on cost, and many small group markets will offer enough pricing incentive to act as glue for small group health plans. That’s not to say private exchanges won’t make head way, but that many private exchanges that target employer groups will offer group health plans (e.g. Utah Health Exchange, HealthPass New York, Aon Hewitt, etc.) rather than individual health plans.

Let us know what you think. Stop by bswift’s booth at the Health Insurance Exchange Congress in Chicago, November 13-14 to join the conversation.

About bswift
Based in Chicago, bswift offers software and services that streamline benefits, HR and payroll administration. bswift's state-of-the-art Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) solutions significantly reduce administrative costs and time-consuming paperwork, making life easier for administrators and more than one million consumers who enroll in benefits with bswift. For more information, visit

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